4 things people do wrong on sick leave


We’ve highlighted the most common things that patients do wrong when we go on sick leave:

1. Thinking we’re Superman

General Practitioner Dr G. Myburgh emphasises that many patients do not understand the value of adhering to doctor’s orders to ensure their continued health and wellbeing. 

Not only do they not realise the benefit of following their treatment regime and taking time off, they also fail to realise that going back to work with an infectious illness might result in colleagues also becoming ill.

Bear in mind that it is not about how you feel, because it’s fairly easy to overestimate your strength when you are tucked up under the covers.

Leaping out of bed too quickly will prolong your recovery, requiring additional time away from work. This will cost the company more as productivity is compromised and a temporary replacement may be required.  The patient might even have to tap into leave days other than sick leave.

2. Saying “it’s only flu”

A bout of flu usually lasts about one to two weeks with severe symptoms lasting two to three days. And because influenza is so highly contagious and is typically spread via coughing and sneezing, it is best that you stay in bed and restrict your contact with other people. 

An adult may be contagious from one day before symptoms start to five to seven days after becoming sick, and children for even longer.

Many patients tend to want to get moving when they think they feel better, but doctors usually prescribe staying home until your contagious period is over to avoid passing it onto other people.

Your body needs enough rest in order to regain its strength before you go back to work.

3. Not finishing the antibiotics

Many of us are guilty of stopping our course of antibiotics once we’re over the worst, but is this the right thing to do? The answer is a resounding no!

According to The Guardian, not completing a prescribed course of antibiotics is dangerous because the infection might recur, and will be more difficult to treat if it does. The danger to the rest of us is that the general population of the infecting bacterium will become more resistant to the specific antibiotic.

The way it works is that some of the bacteria causing the infection may survive – and these will be the ones with the greatest resistance to the antibiotic. So please do not stop your course of antibiotics, even if you feel as healthy as a horse.

4. Taking too little time after surgery

In the case where a patient has undergone surgery, it is always recommended that collaborative patient-centred treatment is negotiated, says Dr Myburgh.

Treatment relating to surgical procedures depends on whether the procedure is major or minor, and whether it was done under local versus general anaesthesia.

Your doctor will decide how much time you need to rest and it is imperative that you follow his or her orders so that optimal healing can take place. 

For example, recovery time before resuming duties of work for an appendectomy that is done under general anaesthetic is about two weeks (fourteen days) and your doctor would advise you to limit your mobility as much as possible, i.e. not to walk around and climb stairs unnecessarily or lift heavy objects.

In short, don’t be a hero!

When it comes to sick leave, your best way to a good and complete recovery is taking your downtime and rest as prescribed – it is in your own best interest.

Read more:

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