Patients rely on nurses for most of their care when they’re in a hospital — but sometimes nurses make poor decisions that end up doing more harm than good.

One of the most negligent things a nurse can do is come to work when he or she is sick and carrying a contagious virus.

Health experts, including those from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), say that nurses need to take note of any unusual symptoms they have and evaluate those symptoms in terms of whether or not they should risk going into work where they could be putting vulnerable, weakened patients at risk of exposure. They point out that nurses have not only their own medical knowledge but tremendous resources within the medical field who can help them evaluate whether or not they could be on the threshold of an illness — which is usually when a communicable disease is most virulent.

For example, a nurse with asthma may not have a reason to call off work if he or she develops a spring cough right when all the plants are blooming — his or her allergies may be acting up, so he or she could at least try treating the symptoms as if they were part of an asthma attack before making the decision to call off.

On the other hand, a nurse who has body aches and cold chills can’t blame those symptoms on anything much other than illness. Not taking a sick day would actually be a tremendous act of negligence.

Yet, it happens all the time. Nurses don’t want to take a sick day if the place they work is already short-staffed for fear of making co-workers angry. In some cases, they may have exhausted the sick leave they have and are afraid of a reprimand. Some may be wary of violating a hospital’s attendance policy. Others may simply just refuse to take a day off as a point of pride.

If a nurse made the poor decision to work while sick and ended up infecting you, you may be entitled to compensation. Consider talking to an attorney about the situation. For more information on how our firm handles claims involving nursing errors, please visit our page.