Should I go to work when I’m sick?

Recently as I was sitting in the report writing area smashing down pseudoephedrine like skittles, a colleague turned and drily stated: “you’re sick aren’t you”.

I was almost ashamed to admit it, but yes I was at work sick. Having been brought up to tough it out, I’d been battling a bad cold for a few days now, and coughing up various shades of green which would have made Kermit the frog proud. See in my head exists this idea that you only take sick days when you need them (where need them is defined as being unconcious, missing a limb,  and/or having a prognosis of less than 4 hours to live).

This is because I’ve heard so many people bitch about staff taking sick days: there are a lot of people out there who take sick days when they don’t need them. Which means that when they are sick, they don’t have any leave and they either get stuck half-cocked at work making everyone elses’ life hard (and everyone else sick) or taking leave without pay.

But as my colleague in the write up area pointed out: in healthcare we get extra sick leave. We work with immuno-compromised patients. We work in close quarters with each other. This means that if you turn up to work sick you not only risk getting your colleagues ill, you risk killing that neutropeanic patient.

So why do people take leave when they don’t need it, and skimp out on taking it when they do?

Because they’re arrogant and they’re selfish.

They’re too selfish to use their personal leave the way they’re meant to, and too arrogant to consider the impact of their actions upon others.

See it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a little sniffle, a mother-flipping migraine or a stiff back. As more people in the write up area arrived and concluded; if you’re sick, you shouldn’t be at work.

If you abuse your sick days you get a reputation for it. People see you as a jerk. If you use them properly…

No one cares. People will trust you when take a whole week off when you’re actually sick, and welcome you back gladly.

Although a few people were pissed at what the majority were saying, it was pretty easy to see their point: When you turn up sick to sit in a box with your colleagues and patients, you’re making them sick to. You’re increasing your risk of error and injury. You’re allowing yourself to potentially be the person that starts the reaction of spreading that bug through all the staff, dropping a patient, giving the wrong medication and killing someone.

Whatever it is, it doesn’t need to happen because if you take your leave when you actually need it you’ll be looking after yourself and others. Even making just one other person sick, has doubled the burden of disease. Imagine if you infected several staff members and a dozen patients?

So please…

Don’t be a selfish jerk.

Call in sick.

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