Thank goodness I have a job that allows me to either work from home or be home sick when I need to. But as appreciative as I am that I have the right to stay home when I am really sick, I still feel a little guilty that my absence is putting more work on my co-workers.
Catherine Cummings, MD, MSN, a health sciences assistant clinical professor at the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine was interviewed at WebMd.com and offers a little checklist for assessing whether someone should stay at home or take the the rest of infecting others by going to work.
- How well can you carry out your work duties? If you’re feeling quite sick, “you’re going to have a hard time functioning and performing at your normal level,” Cummins says.
- Are you contagious? If you have a viral or bacterial illness, you’ll expose your coworkers and they in turn will infect others. Staying home when you’re sick helps to curb germs in the community. “It’s to contain the illness,” Cummins says.
- Will resting at home help your body to overcome the illness? “We see a lot of worsening symptoms because people will just not stop and rest. They want to go; they want to be able to do everything that they normally do,” Cummins says. “What they don’t understand is that they’re pushing themselves to the point where they’re actually a lot sicker at the end of two to four days than they would have been if they had just taken that first day off and let their body fight the infection.”
- Are you taking medications that could impair your ability to think, work, operate machinery, or drive? Let’s say, for example, that you’ve been prescribed Vicodin for back pain and it’s causing fuzzy thinking. “If you’re so sick that you’re using opiates or any controlled substance to control pain, you really need to stay home,” Cummins says. “You shouldn’t be driving, and you could have your performance impaired or it could even be dangerous.”
Lastly, use the golden rule, Cummins says. “Treat others as you would like to be treated. Think about if you would like it if someone came to work and coughed on you all day.”
And with that…I’m going back to bed!