, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 1142-1143
Date: 26 Aug 2010

Presenteeism: Are We Hurting the Patients We are Trying to Help?

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Many physicians remember the Hippocratic Oath (or a modern variant) as one of the milestones in their professional development. In professing the Hippocratic Oath, physicians promise to “abstain from doing harm”. Thomas Syndeham (1624-1689) has been identified as the originator of the Latin phrase primum non nocere translated as “first do no harm”1. Healthcare professionals often face these dilemmas on a daily basis either consciously or unconsciously.

While business and industry have long recognized the costs of employee illnesses, the dominant focus has usually been on absenteeism and the resulting costs. However, many times, employees report to work for various reasons even in the face of serious illness. Presenteeism has been defined as “the problem of workers being on the job, but because of illness, not fully functioning”.2 The cost of lost employee productivity due to presenteeism is estimated to exceed $150 billion dollars in the United States alone.2 Chronic illnesses dominate ...