Calling in sick: how do you decide? - page 4

I have been feeling absolute s**t for the past 3 days, woke up with it on Thursday, came home after 2 hours. Called off Friday and went to the Doc and ended up with abx bronchitis (duh, 2 ppd... Read More

  1. by   Nighshft
    I hardly ever call in sick - after all they will give us a choice come Nov, if we want to "bank" our sick time , or take unused sick time in pay ( at our regular rate). It makes my holiday shopping easier to take the $$ The last time I called in was as a result of a GI bug a pt gave me. If I can't get out of the bathroom, I can't drive to work.
  2. by   Dr. Kate
    It is always far more trouble to have someone come in to work knowing they're too sick to be there and then asking or having to go home in a couple of hours, than it is to deal with a call in a couple hours before the shift starts.
    The rotten thing is that the people who call in routinely for nonillness sick days are teh ones who never feel guilty about it. They're the ones that have led Sups or NMs to asking for doctor's notes or making you feel like you're mistaken about how you feel. There are so many relief people around now, they can't know the work habits of everyone. But, they will catch onto the people who manage to never work a weekend shift, ever. It just takes a while.

    If you're sick you belong at home doing whatever you need to do to get better.
  3. by   mintyRN
    I have learned my lesson the hard way it is best to call in when sick. One time I went in to work with food poisoning. Big mistake. I was only nurse scheduled that day (acute dialysis ) and I ended up working 14 hrs and puked every hr. Couldn't even hold down water. It was terrible. All the other nurses couldn't be reached. My manager was out of town. So I had to stay. Somehow I made it through without killing anyone or dying myself My second lesson involved a med error after I went to work with a temp of 101. I should have known better, but I went in not wanting to cause someone to work over for me (the place was chronically short) I wrote a med order on the wrong MAR and the pt got the med for 2 days before it was caught. I got a write up and vowed never to go in sick again. So I certainly do not hesistate to call in now.
  4. by   Youda
    As a supervisor at work, I'm often the one who takes the call-ins. Because I know how it feels to get the 3rd-degree on the phone when you're sick, I say instead:

    "I'm so sorry you're feeling bad. Is there anything I can do? Do you need anyone to bring you something to eat or fluids, go to the store for you, or pick up a prescription?" And if they need something, I either go help when I get off work, or if I have enough staff, allow someone to go "on the clock" to help the person.

    Even if someone calls in when they aren't really sick, I figure they need the time off or they wouldn't be calling; or else nothing I say is going to change their mind about not coming. If they call in alot, I encourage them to get with the NM to create a schedule that better fits their needs.
    Last edit by Youda on Oct 7, '02
  5. by   SmilingBluEyes
    It's a tough call when one has kids; I usually wind up saving my "sick calls" for when one or both of them surely will bring some nasty bug home and be ill. They need me home to care for them in these times, so I guess I have to save it for then whenever possible. Now if I am knocked-down, drug-out sick, of course, I will call in. But I have to be feeling pretty rough before I do. The sick calls I have made have been few but they have almost all been due to my kids being sick and needing mommy at home w/them. Way it is when ya have kids.
  6. by   nurseT
    I'm rarely sick and almost never call in. I have had a tooth pulled and went to work chewing a bloody gauze before, but it was because we were already short, and I felt guilty. I have called off for 2 days once when I tried to get up in the am and my back said nope.. sorry... I got some muscle relaxers and some pain meds and still went to work before I was better.
  7. by   Youda
    Originally posted by Dr. Kate
    But, they will catch onto the people who manage to never work a weekend shift, ever. It just takes a while.
    This is what I don't understand about management. If you have an otherwise good staff member, but who habitually calls-in on holidays or weekends, or whatever, all it does is cause a hardship for the other staff and affects patient care. But, if you lean on that person, they'll quit when you're already short-staffed.

    So, why not try to find solutions that are human-based? I love working weekends, so I request it (less admin around to get on my nerves, and more family visitors so I can get to know family). Why not put an ad in the paper for a part-time weekend person? There's a hospital in Kansas City that solved that problem by having two "full time" staffs: one from Monday - Friday 8-hour shifts and another staff for Saturday - Sunday. The weekend staff works two 12-hour shifts, but gets paid for 36 hours and are given full-time benefits. End of problem. Everyone is happy. They have no openings for the weekend staff, and a waiting list of people for both sets of full-time staff.

    Why can't admin find positive solutions instead of treating people like criminals, treating nurses like the scum of the earth?
    Last edit by Youda on Oct 7, '02
  8. by   deespoohbear
    I will not go to work with a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or a cough that sounds like I am hacking up a lung. I have chronic sinusitis which occasionally turns acute and I usually work when I have that. Usually our managers our pretty decent about not giving you a rough time when you call in, (unless you are a habitual offender). One time I went to work when I wasn't feeling well. No temp or vomiting or diarrhea, just blah. Got to work and progressively got worse through the shift. Told the day shift supervisor I thought I ought to go home, but she told me that I couldn't unless I had a temp. (She is the one that will give you a rough time when you call in ). So, a little while later I took my temp and it was 102. I went up to her and said, I have a 102 temp and I AM GOING HOME NOW. The rest of the nurses divided up my assignment and home I went.

    When I was working as a CNA while I was in nursing school, I got a whopping case of strep throat. 104 temp, room spinning when I sat upright. Couldn't even drive myself to the doctor's office, my MIL took me in. Got a shot of PCN and told to stay home for 4 days. My MIL took me to the nursing home where I worked, and I took the slip in. The DON wanted to know if I really needed 4 days off (it was the weekend). I told her, do you really want me working with all these old people with strep throat and 104 temp? Pretty much ended that discussion.

    I don't feel guilty when I need to call in. If I am sick, I am sick. If my kids are sick and need their Mom I stay home. Period.
    Last edit by deespoohbear on Oct 8, '02
  9. by   semstr
    Yeah, I just called in this morning. Running a fever, nose is constipated, having a bronchitis that hurts terrible and conjunctivitis on both eyes.
    that is enough to call in sick, my collegue takes over my planned classes (thank God, just one this afternoon) and I am going to see my doctor, cause I really feel sick right now!
  10. by   whipping girl in 07
    I have two comments about calling in sick:
    1) I called in sick twice while I was in orientation at my job. The first time, I had a migraine (been having them since I was 21) and I didn't feel too guilty, except that after I took my medicine, I felt better by 1pm and my shift wasn't over until 7pm. So I could have worked half my shift. The second time I called in sick was only a couple of weeks later. The flu was going around the unit because no one would call in sick until they were on their deathbed. So of course I caught it, and even worse, I gave it to my son. I was scheduled Mon-Wed-Thurs that week (Tues was a holiday). I made it through Monday coughing and hacking (I drank nearly an entire bottle of Robitussin during the shift). I was off Tuesday for Mardi Gras and didn't even leave my house because I felt so crappy, but I did feel a little better by that night, I guess from getting some much needed rest. I went back to work Wednesday and barely made it through the day. My preceptor nearly sent me home. Then at 11pm that night, Ian started throwing up and threw up every two hours for the rest of the night. After cleaning him up for the second time I realized he was sick too and that there was no way he was going to make it through a day of day care tomorrow. So I called in sick. Good thing I did, as sick as we were. I managed to get both of us to the doctor and when we got home we crashed for 6 or 7 hours without even moving. I could barely get up to go to the bathroom, let alone take care of my child. Good thing he slept the whole time. My husband was working out of town, and he called his boss Thursday night and told him he was going home because we were so sick. He took care of us all weekend, and ended up sick in bed with the flu the day after he went back to work. Only he didn't have anyone to take care of him in Mesquite, TX. I felt so bad for him.

    The point of my story: if all those tough nurses would have called in sick when they started feeling bad (myself included) instead of muddling through work and spreading their germs, we would not have had an EPIDEMIC of flu in the ICU.

    2) I had chronic migraines several years ago when I was working in the admissions office of a hospital. I didn't start to have problems until I started working full-time. I also replaced two part-time positions along with filling my full-time position, so I was constantly stressed and having difficulty completing my work. I often had to go home early on Fridays because I was going into overtime from staying late all week to finish my work. After the first couple of months, I would call in with a headache nearly every week. My boss was very understanding since she also struggled with migraines and recommended a good dr. He tried to get to the bottom of my problem, and he eventually figured it out. I was ALLERGIC to all the mold in our office. See, we were in the old part of the hospital, and we didn't have any floors above us. Our roof leaked every time it rained, and the carpets, ceiling and fabric-covered walls got wet. The suspended ceiling never got fully dry, and was probably full of mold. I wasn't exposed to it that much when I was just working 16 hrs a week. He started me on antihistamines, Norvasc and ibuprofen, with Midrin to take for the headaches. My headaches decreased to one or two a month. Then I quit my job to go back to school, and the headaches disappeared almost completely. I didn't really start having problems with them again until we moved to Louisiana, which is really damp.

    The point of this story: sometimes it's your workplace making you sick. I guess if I had been smart I would have filed a worker's comp claim, but I didn't know too much when I was 21, and my boss surely wasn't forthcoming about it either.

    Sorry so long, but I really wanted to get my points across.
    My $0.0208 (with my 4% raise!)
    Last edit by whipping girl in 07 on Oct 8, '02
  11. by   TheLionessRN
    I had an interesting phone call on afternoon when my son cut open his hand and needed to go to the ER. I was supposed to work that night, and it was close enough to leaving for work time that I wasn't sure I would make it. I called the supervisor and, the first thing I asked was if the census was low enough for me to just be cut off the list. She said no, the census was actually pretty high for a Friday night, and she needed all her people.
    I said shoot, I didn't want to feel guilty about calling in, but needed to. Her response was "I don't know, this doesn't look very good for you to call in". Asked me if I was calling in because I thought the census was low, to keep from being pulled. I had not told her about my son yet, because I was trying to be nice about the whole thing, and hoped the census would be low and there be no need to "call in". After she verbally pulled me in three different directions, having misunderstood my question about the census I finally got upset about the whole thing and told her that I was not trying to weasel out of anything, that my son had just cut the sh*% out of his hand, and needed to go to the ER....and I was ACTUALLY trying to be kind enough to see if I needed to ask his grandmother to take him if I was needed, but at that point, after she jerked me around, I simply called off for the entire night.

    Really made me mad.
  12. by   Youda
    So they can send you home whenever they please, but you're suppose to always be at their beck and call?

    My Mom is a nurse. She worked rehab for many years. When the census got low, they'd send nurses home, too. But, they always gave them the option of floating or just going home. AND they always paid you straight time if you went home (not sick or vacation time, but just paying them anyway). The reasoning was that they didn't want any of their nurses finding other jobs when their census dropped, because they knew they'd need experienced nurses when the census went back up.

    But, those were the good old days when nurses were treated better. I'd bet no one does that anymore.
  13. by   HazeK
    At my hospital, we are encouraged to call in sick if the buzzards are circling our bodies OR if we are being measured for a coffin by a mortician, otherwise we are expected to show up....LOL!

    in reality, I agree with several others.

    I call in if:

    I can't get more than four steps from toilet...or barf bag...

    I'm febrile >100.2 despite tylenol/motrin/asa...

    I'm gonna cry cuz it hurts so much to move...

    or, mental health-wise, I might assault someone if they piss me off one more time OR I might curl up with a blankie in the corner of a closet! LOL!

    often will go to work w/ Sx of URI after 48 hours of antibiotic Tx.