Leong and colleagues1 report the direct and indirect costs of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) from the perspective of a US Fortune 100 manufacturer. To estimate indirect costs (ie, productivity loss), the authors use payments for disability claims and wages during medically related work absence days.
Productivity loss may be overestimated, however. If other employees depend on the work of the sick employee, usually another employee will take on the work of the sick employee. Manufacturing work flow will not simply be interrupted. Instead, productivity will be maintained. If the sick employee works by oneself, it seems reasonable to assume that the employee will catch up on work once she or he is back on the job. In either case, only long-term absenteeism may cause the manufacturer to hire another person.
Gandjour A. Productivity Loss Due to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Arch Intern Med. 2003;163(18):2249. doi:10.1001/archinte.163.18.2249-a