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Reported variability in healthcare facility policies regarding healthcare personnel working while experiencing influenza-like illnesses: An emerging infections network survey

  • Hilary M. Babcock (a1), Susan E. Beekmann (a2), Satish K. Pillai (a3), Scott Santibanez (a3), Leslie Lee (a4), David T. Kuhar (a5), Angela P. Campbell (a6), Anita Patel (a7) and Philip M. Polgreen (a2)...

Abstract

Background:

Presenteeism, or working while ill, by healthcare personnel (HCP) experiencing influenza-like illness (ILI) puts patients and coworkers at risk. However, hospital policies and practices may not consistently facilitate HCP staying home when ill.

Objective and methods:

We conducted a mixed-methods survey in March 2018 of Emerging Infections Network infectious diseases physicians, describing institutional experiences with and policies for HCP working with ILI.

Results:

Of 715 physicians, 367 (51%) responded. Of 367, 135 (37%) were unaware of institutional policies. Of the remaining 232 respondents, 206 (89%) reported institutional policies regarding work restrictions for HCP with influenza or ILI, but only 145 (63%) said these were communicated at least annually. More than half of respondents (124, 53%) reported that adherence to work restrictions was not monitored or enforced. Work restrictions were most often not perceived to be enforced for physicians-in-training and attending physicians. Nearly all (223, 96%) reported that their facility tracked laboratory-confirmed influenza (LCI) in patients; 85 (37%) reported tracking ILI. For employees, 109 (47%) reported tracking of LCI and 53 (23%) reported tracking ILI. For independent physicians, not employed by the facility, 30 (13%) reported tracking LCI and 11 (5%) ILI.

Conclusion:

More than one-third of respondents were unaware of whether their institutions had policies to prevent HCP with ILI from working; among those with knowledge of institutional policies, dissemination, monitoring, and enforcement of these policies was highly variable. Improving communication about work-restriction policies, as well as monitoring and enforcement, may help prevent the spread of infections from HCP to patients.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Hilary Babcock, Email: hbabcock@wustl.edu

References

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Reported variability in healthcare facility policies regarding healthcare personnel working while experiencing influenza-like illnesses: An emerging infections network survey

  • Hilary M. Babcock (a1), Susan E. Beekmann (a2), Satish K. Pillai (a3), Scott Santibanez (a3), Leslie Lee (a4), David T. Kuhar (a5), Angela P. Campbell (a6), Anita Patel (a7) and Philip M. Polgreen (a2)...

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