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A sickening system

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 09 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3628
  1. Kinesh Patel, junior doctor, London
  1. kinesh.patel{at}

    It was a rather crackly telephone line. “I can’t come in tonight,” said the junior doctor to the consultant. After a slightly awkward pause she added, quietly, “I’ve got dysmenorrhoea.” Mishearing her words, flustered by the overly detailed description of the problem, and seeking to end the telephone call as quickly as possible, the consultant muttered. “Fine, fine.” Turning to me he said, “What’s she doing having sex when on night shifts anyway?”

    Sick leave is always a thorny issue. How unwell is not well enough to come to work? Is it …

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