Illnesses and calling in sick

  1. I"m a little worried that I'm in trouble at work.

    This morning, I woke up feeling terrible. I had a very bad sore throat and was terribly nauseated. I went ahead and tried to get ready for work, though, but I ended up barfing in the shower. Then I had some other stomach problems. When I looked at my throat, my tonsils were very red, swollen, and covered with white spots. I took my temperature, but it was only low grade - 100.5. Still, I felt bad enough that I called in sick to work. I couldn't get a doctor's appointment today, so I'm going tomorrow.

    My tonsils are so swollen that it hurts to even open my mouth and I'm having a hard time making myself understood. I've been IM'ing my husband for juice and stuff all day, so that I don't have to talk.

    I had my husband call my work tonight to let them know I'm still ill and won't be coming to work tomorrow. I suppose I should have tried to call myself, but between our horrible cell phone connection (no land line at the house, only cell phones) and how difficult it is for me to speak coherently, I thought it would be easier for him to call. Apparently the charge nurse gave him some grief over me calling in sick 2 days in a row.

    Now I'm worried that I'm going to be in trouble.

    I don't understand why things like this have to be punitive. We have a point system at my hospital - every time you're ill or have a death in the family or have to miss work for any reason (except pre-approved vacation time) you earn one point. It doesn't matter if you have a doctor's excuse or not; you still earn a point. If you are tardy, you earn half a point. When you accumulate 12 points, you get fired.

    And the points don't drop off at the end of the year; rather, they are on a rolling calender. They don't drop off at the beginning of the year when you have your evaluation and get your raise, etc. etc. They drop off exactly a year from whenever the incident occurred. So if for some reason, you had multiple illnesses or family emergencies or whatever back to back within a six month period, you wouldn't be able to call in for any reason until a full calender year had passed from those incidents; otherwise, you'd get fired.

    I guess I'm nervous because I've had a very bad year. I had to have an emergency appendectomy last November, so I was out for a week then. Then I had some marital problems (my husband actually left me out of nowhere, though we're back together and working on our problems now) so I missed 2 days for that in January. Then I hurt my back and missed a day in March. And, last September, I missed a day and a half for fertility treatment (obviously prior to the marital problems. ). Those are all things I couldn't really plan and get pre-approval for.

    I just feel like in the face of such a nursing shortage, it seems counter-productive to make things like illness and emergencies so punitive and threatening. I could see that if someone was calling in sick for a day here and a day there once a month or once every couple of weeks or was always calling in with vague complaints. But, I had legitimate problems along with letters from my doctor and therapist for everything except my back problem.

    Do you all think I'm in serious trouble here? should I have gone to work anyways? I truly feel terrible - I'm only on line because I can't sleep because I feel so bad. And, additionally, I'm anxious about my job, so that's not helping.
  2. Visit Susan9608 profile page

    About Susan9608

    Joined: Apr '07; Posts: 211; Likes: 316
    RN

    31 Comments

  3. by   Susan9608
    Just to add ...

    This is not the first time I have been given a hard time about calling in sick. I was told that I was not "allowed" to call in for fertility treatment. (Our time off is not separated into sick leave and vacation - it's just "paid time off" - which, in my opinion, means it's none of their damn business *why* I"m calling in.) When I called in for my appendix, I was told that I was really screwing staffing. When I called in when I hurt my back, the charge nurse called me later to make sure I'd be there the next day (and we ended up being *over* staffed).

    I did email my supervisor after the incident with my appendectomy. She sent out a general email, telling everyone to be "nice" to the people who call in sick. Things were better for awhile, but they are back to being nasty about it.

    I'm thinking about emailing my manager, or possibly HR, because I don't think anyone has the right to treat me badly simply because I don't feel well. I don't know if this is a bad idea or not, though.

    I'd appreciate some input - hopefully I'm not the only one who's been in this position?
  4. by   kcalohagirl
    The situation truly stinks. You might want to double check with HR or your manager. We have a similar point system, however if you call in sick one day (say with your tonsils) and are still out for additional days with the same illness, you only accumulate one point. Especially if you have something contagious, it doesn't make sense to bring you back to work around people whose immune systems may already be compromised.

    Good luck, and keep us posted!
  5. by   chuck1234
    As long as you have the doctor's note, I do not think that you have to worry.
    Take some rest...feel better.
  6. by   ginger58
    Pardon my French, but what kind of a hell hole do you work in?? I left nursing this year and after reading some of the posts on a lot of subjects I'm glad I have. Though deep down I'd love to be comforting and caring for patients, but not when management is getting so punitive. We get written up for six sick calls in a year. I can't imagine this just being fired business. Things happen that we have no control over. No you shouldn't have gone in if your tonsils were that bad and you felt lousy. A charge nurse shouldn't be giving a co-worker grief if they need a second day off. I'm glad staffing was always pleasant about it if I had to call in sick.
    If you're going to email/talk to someone I'd start with your manager. If you go over her head that may not have a good outcome.
    You can't help that your appendix and tonsils decide to act up. Maybe the fertility consult could have been done on a day off, but take care of yourself first because no one at the hospital will.
  7. by   TazziRN
    They do not have the right to ask you what's wrong, and if they do you are not obligated to answer. They can request a doctor's note to prove you were sick, but that's usually reserved for the "habitually sick", if'n ya know what I mean.

    I worked for a facility that allowed a certain number of occurences per year, but it didn't matter how many days each occurence used. And to give points for excused legit illnesses seems wacked to me. I think I would be looking for another employer. Yours has already proven that there is no sympathy. I mean, you didn't plan to have an appy, did you? Or to hurt your back?
  8. by   feisty_lpn
    I've never had to use FMLA, but shouldn't that cover your illnesses? When my husband had to be off work for a few days due to kidney stones, he filed FMLA and they couldn't count it against him. Just a suggestion.
  9. by   MrChicagoRN
    Quote from Susan9608
    I"m a little worried that I'm in trouble at work.



    When I looked at my throat, my tonsils were very red, swollen, and covered with white spots. I took my temperature, but it was only low grade - 100.5. Still, I felt bad enough that I called in sick to work.

    My tonsils are so swollen that it hurts to even open my mouth and I'm having a hard time making myself understood. I've been IM'ing my husband for juice and stuff all day, so that I don't have to talk.

    I had my husband call my work tonight to let them know I'm still ill and won't be coming to work tomorrow. I suppose I should have tried to call myself, but between our horrible cell phone connection (no land line at the house, only cell phones) and how difficult it is for me to speak coherently, I thought it would be easier for him to call. Apparently the charge nurse gave him some grief over me calling in sick 2 days in a row.

    Now I'm worried that I'm going to be in trouble.

    Do you all think I'm in serious trouble here? should I have gone to work anyways? I truly feel terrible - I'm only on line because I can't sleep because I feel so bad. And, additionally, I'm anxious about my job, so that's not helping.

    Maybe the charge nurse didn't believe you were sick. Everyplace I've worked states the employee themselve needs to call in.

    Is there an employee health dept at your job?

    Next time let them know you need to check if it's safe for you to be around patients. Go to employee health & let them make the call.


    Also, FMLA usually isn't approved for occasional short-term illnesses of random duration.
  10. by   P_RN
    Up to 3 days just one call in. Then call when you will return. After 3rd day you have to report to Employee Health with a doctor's note. They do not have the right to ask why you were sick unless it is something contagious like Chicken Pox. That's why the note has to clear you. 5 "occurrences a year." Occurrence can be 1all the way to however many days you have built up. After that you request FMLA and that gives you another 6 weeks. If you come back for even 1 day then call in the next day that begins your second occurrence. The "WHY" is yours and yours alone.
  11. by   tryin4newlife
    That truely is a bad situation - where I work our calendar goes from July to July. You can call off three times from July to July with no problem. Once you call off the fourth time, you get a written warning.....after that I think you get another warning or two before you actually can be fired. Only calling off three times in one 12 month period is pretty difficult if you have small children or you seem to get a lot of illnesses. In addition, we have signs all over the hospital that state if you're sick or have flu type symptoms the hospital requests that you refrain from visiting at this time for the welfare of patients. That always makes me chuckle - they don't want visitors, but your health care provider can hang over you all day sick as a dog. Any yes I know, you can wear a mask while ill and working in the hospital - I've done it - but patients usually as why you're wearing a mask and some look very uncomfortable if you state that you are slightly ill. I do understand that we have patients to care for regardless if workers call off or not, but if you're a good employee and you have real illnesses and reasons for calling off that should be taken into consideration.
  12. by   Susan9608
    Thanks so much for the suggestions and empathy. I'm going to the doctor in about 10 minutes, so I'll fax a note to my work and employee health as well. Whomever suggested going to employee health and letting them make the call - that's a good idea. Thanks!
  13. by   HappyJaxRN
    Isn't this an interesting topic. I don't get it.....We take care of sick people and we get sick too. I was in the hospital for 3 days...they were all ER visits. I spent a number of days being tested. I was sicker than a dog. I tried to file for FMLA. My NM said I couldn't because what I had was not a chronic illness. So I had to call out....I was told not to bother to provide notes from doctors because it was useless. It would still count as "UNEXCUSED" absenses. So here I am in the ER about to die and I can't come into work...I racked up $15,000 in medical bills in about 2 weeks. So about a month after I was told not to file FMLA paperwork, my NM comes to me and tells me that I'm about to be "let go," because of my call outs. Just after that, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. The episode that I had, my liver took a hit....but it doesn't matter....I was still UNEXCUSED. Amazing. I don't call out of work for any other reason other than illness.

    My employer is cracking down...and rightfully so..because there are people that are taking advantage of the call out policy. But it's hurting people like me who are truly sick.

    So the happy ending, I WILL have FMLA papers filled out when I see my GP in June. But I have to hope I don't get sick again until then.

    There needs to be another way to deal with call outs....it just kills me.

    Out hospital penalizes you after 7 call outs. I understand, we're "LUCKY," because most other hospitals are a lot less than that! Amazing!
  14. by   HappyJaxRN
    Sorry....the MORALE OF THE STORY HON....is to do what is BEST for you! Don't listen to everyone else! Like your boss. Get your notes and anything else that will cover your gluteus! Hope you feel better!

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