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working sick...need advice:)

I did find some similar threads...but I am really looking for some advice, so stay with me:chair:

I got sick on friday. Fever, cough, chills, body aches...really really sick. Believe me, I'm not a whiner. I went to the pa in quick care who thought it might be bronchitis and it might be influenza...either way she wasn't going to treat me. (she felt it was viral) I knew I had to work Christmas, so I talked her into a z-pack just in case. anyhow...I just got sicker. I called work on saturday and told them "I'm running a fever, I have a horrible cough and I'm dizzy" response? take cold medicine and come in any way. They were short and it was christmas.

Too late to make this short;) but I loaded up on motrin and tylenol and went to work (I work ER) By 1100 my fever was up to 100.9 with the meds. I told my charge nurse that I was really having a hard time. She basically told me to suck it up. She kept giving me these 89yo GLF's who were going to go to surgery for hip replacements. One of the doc's saw how crappy I looked and we did an influenza culture (positive) My charge nurse told me to "do the best you can, I will try to find someone to cover you" She found one more nurse to come in from ICU and then she used her to "lighten our load" instead of sending me home.

I pulled it together and did the best I could. No whining. I am now really peeved. I feel like I should do something or say something to my director about the way this was handled. I wonder how many little old people I just killed off...

I'm interested in what you would have done in this situation and what you would do now... would you speak to your director? let it go? I am finally feeling human again and I have a few days off, but I don't think I will ever work that sick again. oh, and I have worked there a year and not called in...for anything.

Excuse me...you had a temp., and an influenza culture that was positive and your charge nurse wouldn't let you leave? Has she ever heard of infection control?

I know when you get sick sometimes you don't have the energy to fight back, but next time, if you need to call off, call off and don't let them bully you into coming in. You had a note to back you up. There should have been no question (unless you're someone who routinely abuses sick time).

This is just ridiculous; we need to stand up to abusive people like the charge nurse you described. She compromised your health, as well as the health of everyone you came in contact with. God forbid someone severely immunocompromised should have shown up in your ED!

Daytonite, BSN, RN

Has 40 years experience. Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt.

Well, this is probably the wrong thing to put out publicly, and I'm sure there'll be some who criticize me for this, but I would have put on a big show of having trouble breathing, acting like I was having trouble keeping my balance, telling everyone I felt really sick and sitting down and moaning that I just couldn't keep going. I would never say anything about needing to go home. I'd let them figure that out. If I was sitting down saying I couldn't move, what would they do? Get out a whip and give me 40 lashes to get up and get going? I don't think so. Like most other problems, they would have to deal with it.

Your first problem was calling work and only saying "I'm running a fever, I have a horrible cough and I'm dizzy". What I would have done is called in and said I won't be at work today. I'm sick. If they gave me that line, "take cold medicine and come in any way", I would have just said "I told you I'm not coming in. I can barely move," and then hang up before they can talk back.

when I "tried" to call in sick they told me that they were "really really short" and if I called in that would be the final nail in the coffin. I could just hear the breakroom comments "can you believe she had the nerve to come in sick?" or "who in the world calls in sick on Christmas?"

If I ever have to do this again, I will do it completely different. But, I just have to figure out what to do NOW...I honestly don't want to see this happen to anyone again. I really had to dig deep to make it through my shift.

As for "putting on a show" (that cracked me up, btw:)) I was pale and sickly looking...It wasn't a show:) Everyone knew how sick I was. In my demented little head, I kept thinking..."I'm not going to give her the satisfaction of making me whine" (I think it was the fever)

Well, this is probably the wrong thing to put out publicly, and I'm sure there'll be some who criticize me for this, but I would have put on a big show of having trouble breathing, acting like I was having trouble keeping my balance, telling everyone I felt really sick and sitting down and moaning that I just couldn't keep going.

I disagree completely and I'll tell you why. When you put on a show and drama like that it is MORE than obvious what you are doing. Stop and think about patients you have had that do the same. As you are working with them you are doing the mental eye-roll thing.

We have a girl at work that does that. She doesn't get headaches, she get migraines. She doesn't have an upset stomach, she has violent N/V. She never gets papercuts, she gets gashes, if she tears a fingernail it isn't ... oh, this is really sore! It is.... OMG! IT'S RED AND RAW!

People giggle at her and ignore her. When all else fails she does as you suggest. Exaggerates everything and puts on quite the drama. THAT is worse than the gashes, red and raw, and everything else.

I wouldn't suggest doing that. People will laugh at the OP while doing an eye roll right in front of her or as soon as she turns her back.

If you are sick you are sick. There is no need for exaggerations and drama. Just stick to the facts and go home. Better yet, don't go to work in the first place.

And that is when you say, "I'm sorry staffing is short, but I am too ill to work." Then hang up! (Then unplug the phone/let the ans. machine pick up, etc.) One of my co-workers once said, "No one is going to give you a medal of honor for dragging yourself in to work when you're sick." That was 20y ago, and I still believe that.

It's not your job to ensure staffing is adequate; that's the supervisor's job. If your supervisor is too stupid or shortsighted to realize how dangerous it is to have someone who is clearly unwell working, then she needs to not be a supervisor.

If you have an infection control dept., I would just casually ask what the policy would be about someone working who is febrile and has a + influenza culture. See what kind of response you get!

I totally agree that when you call in sick- it's not ASKING- you are informing them. On the other hand I know at my hospital it is frowned upon to call in sick unless you are really on your death bed. I had diarrhea once and my charge RN got me an Immodium. Lately, all the staff have been coming to work sick with colds, bronchitis, flu, etc. Even our manager was coughing and blowing her nose this morning. It's just expected that if you can move at all, you should come in to work. Since when do most hospitals really care about the patients?? Sure they talk about infection control and all that but does your hospital allow you to take as many sick days as you need- for any kind of infection? In ours we get 7 times a year- regardless of reason. You could be in the hospital having surgery- it matters not. You get 7 "sick days" (they start the write ups at 5). It sucks because we all pass the infections to each other, to our families and kids, and to our patients. I guess they would have been exposed anyway just sitting in the ER, but still....patients and staff come LAST- at least in a corporate hospital.

SmilingBluEyes

Has 20 years experience.

I would strongly consider my options---mainly looking for another employment situation. This WILL happen again. Are you ready to deal with this again and again? And are you willing to expose sick patients like this again and again?

It's up to you, but I would definately consider leaving, if I possibly could.

Scrmblr, I know exactly how you feel. I probably would have come in too, just to prevent all the not so hushed gossiping about calling in sick on a holiday. Where I work we have to have a "high satisfactory" evaluation rating in EVERY catagory for a merit raise. Our manager will give a lower rating to those who call in sick on holidays, just before or after vacation, or frequent Monday/Friday sickcall.

Let the gossipmongers talk; they'll always find something to talk about, no matter how hard you try.

It's ridiculous to think that people are compromising the health of pts. and colleagues because of fear of idle talk or decreased raise. The second that influenza culture came back positive, she should have been out the door. (Actually, she shouldn't have been there to begin with, and she had a note to cover any chatter about "not really being sick.")

If I'd been a pt. and wound with influenza, I'd be seriously po'd to find out someone taking care of me came in to work when she was too ill to be there.

Honestly, I don't think there is anything to do about it NOW. The time to do something has passed. Learn from it and next time don't go in if you are sick. No one can make you go in sick.

Let the gossipmongers talk; they'll always find something to talk about, no matter how hard you try.

It's ridiculous to think that people are compromising the health of pts. and colleagues because of fear of idle talk or decreased raise. The second that influenza culture came back positive, she should have been out the door. (Actually, she shouldn't have been there to begin with, and she had a note to cover any chatter about "not really being sick.")

If I'd been a pt. and wound with influenza, I'd be seriously po'd to find out someone taking care of me came in to work when she was too ill to be there.

I'm not debating the fact that she shouldn't have been there. But considering she really was ill and already looked ill, there was no reason for the drama. That's all. The drama is something people see though and I know I think to myself when I see someone putting on quite the show that if the drama and poor acting are necessary, the person must not be really sick.

It's easy to tell when people are ill vs. when they are putting on a show.

Chaya, ASN, RN

Has 15 years experience. Specializes in Rehab, Med Surg, Home Care.

This is similar to what they teach us about pain; ie; pain is what the patient says it is. You are the only one who can assess how sick you feel so why ask your managers if you really need to come in? You know when you're too sick to work. Period. Don't give them a mixed message; call out. It will never be convenient for the people working short but it can't be helped. It doesn't sound like you abuse they system so next time do what you gotta do.

I'm not debating the fact that she shouldn't have been there. But considering she really was ill and already looked ill, there was no reason for the drama. That's all. The drama is something people see though and I know I think to myself when I see someone putting on quite the show that if the drama and poor acting are necessary, the person must not be really sick.

It's easy to tell when people are ill vs. when they are putting on a show.

No, I'm not advocating for her to have "put on a show." That would have just reduced her credibility. But not calling in because you're afraid what gossipers will say...that's another thing altogether.

Dalzac, LPN, LVN, RN

Specializes in CCU,ICU,ER retired.

Just telling them you sick and will not be in is the best way to do it. I used to go in feeling like some one was trying to kill me and I have actually had to get a freakin IV and sit and watch monitors! I don't work for those guys any more. If you work in ER and have the flu you need to stay home and stay in bed. I know in ER you could do more damage than good when you have the flu. Don't let someones staffing guilt trip get you.

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Has 20 years experience. Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

I used to believe that there were only two circumstances that should keep me away from work: when I couldn't keep my head off the pillow, or out of the toilet. Now I know better.........I've been ill so many times this past year that I lost count of my absences. That's what I got for ignoring my body's signals for too long---and believe me, nobody gave me any props for coming to work sick. They did, however, give me a number of verbal warnings for being out so much, and while I can understand that to a point, it's also a source of much frustration and anger.

Think about it: what good is it to ourselves and our patients to come to work when we're coughing, blowing our noses, running a fever, or throwing up every five minutes? Not only does this prevent us from getting the rest our bodies demand and possibly prolong the illness, it exposes already vulnerable patients to germs they didn't have before coming into the hospital or care facility. That fact alone should make nurse managers and supervisors think twice before 'guilting' us into coming in when we're sick......you'd think these people have never heard of nosocomial infections:stone

I realize there are those who abuse their sick days and call in whenever it's a holiday or a weekend (ever notice how prevalent the 'bottle flu' is on warm, sunny Mondays and Fridays?). But the vast majority of us shouldn't be suspected of what the old Army drill sergeants used to call 'gold-bricking', let alone punished for the actions of the few.........IMO, coming to work sick should be regarded as bad practice, just like going from patient to patient without washing one's hands, or failing to observe the five rights of medication administration.

If nothing else, I'd advise the OP that it's far easier to ask forgiveness than permission---next time you're sick, tell TPTB that you are ILL and cannot come to work. Don't ask them if it's OK, don't tell them you'll try to make it in later if you feel better, and above all, DON'T GO IN. I used to think that if I showed up looking pathetic and moving around with the speed of a weary blacksmith, management would take pity on me and send me home; in reality, they will almost always assume that if you can walk, you can work.

Stepping off my soapbox now.......:)

AtlantaRN, RN

Has 13 years experience. Specializes in Med Surg, Hospice, Home Health.

We had a nurse injure herself while pulling up a patient (with another nurse of course), her clavicle was poking out of her skin and the overhouse supervisor asked if she could "wait until the end of your shift before going to the ER..."

this was at 1500!!!!

You are too kind, I would have called in, and have them suck it up...

that is why we have agency nurses and prn nurses.

I was sick 3 days last week with that viral yuk that is going around, I didn't feel guilty at all because I couldn't lift my head off my pillow for 5 days prior to calling out...

You HAVE to take care of YOU first, or there will be no YOU to care for others!!

linda

hope you are better soon

Sheesh. If a healthcare worker I had to work with or see had a positive flu culture, I would be quite irate. I have asthma, and the LAST thing I need is the flu. Plus, you felt horrid and could have made mistakes. I know the day I went in to clinical with bronchitis and a 100 fever I almost gave a patient a double dose of Haldol because my brain was real fuzzy. It scared me enough to realize that if I am ever that sick again I need to just say No. I'm glad you feel better! :wink2:

To me, there is no difference in going to work under the influence and going to work when you're really too sick to be there; in either case, you're working "impaired."

pedinurse05

Specializes in Peds stepdown ICU.

My MIL went in for knee surgery last year and was taken care of by a nurse who was constantly excusing herself to the bathroom. By the end of the week my MIL was very ill and missed 8 days of work--she believes it was from her contact with this nurse...patients shouldn't come to be treated and leave sicker! A positive influenza culture means ISO on our unit. Total disregard for patients, especially the young and eldrly.

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