7 Symptoms You Should Never Ignore At Work

Know when to act and what to do
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Not surprisingly, a reported 65% of those US employees with low-paying jobs often go to work sick. The number for professionals and high-income employees is only slightly better at 48%. One risk is that sick and contagious employees will infect their coworkers, leading to a greater decrease in productivity. Even more terrifying, an employee who thinks they may just be suffering from a cold or the flu may come to work and have to deal with an even more serious health event.

Here are 7 symptoms that should never be ignored at work. If you’re not sure if your employee or coworker is dealing with something serious, be safe and don’t wait—call 911.

1. Chest pain doesn’t always mean a heart attack, but don’t take any chances. Some heart attacks come on suddenly, while others start slowly. Get help right away if someone feels a tightness or squeezing in the center of their chest that lasts for a more than a few minutes or stops and comes back again. They may feel pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or one or both arms. They may be short of breath—with or without chest pain—or feel dizzy, sweaty, or sick to your stomach. Call 911 (don’t try to drive yourself is you are having chest pains) if you think someone may be having a heart attack and get the person to the hospital.

2. Sudden shortness of breath. Many types of work can lead to someone feeling out of breath, but sudden shortness of breath for no obvious reason can be a sign of something more serious, like a blood clot in the lungs, collapsed lung, or heart attack. Call 911 if someone you work with can’t catch their breath.

3. Sudden, intense headaches that come on out of the blue are often called thunderclap headaches. The pain usually peaks within one minute. Some people feel faint or sick to their stomach. Many thunderclap headaches are life-threatening, so call 911 right away if someone at work is having one. It could mean dangerous bleeding in or around the brain, or another problem with the brain’s blood supply.

4. Sudden confusion. We’ve all had that where’d-I-just-put-my-keys feeling. But it’s important to call 911 if someone becomes confused rapidly. It could be caused by fever, stroke, low blood sugar, or many other reasons. Watch for cold, clammy skin, faintness or dizziness, a fast pulse, headache, or fast or slow breathing. Check also to see if the confused person has diabetes or has had a brain injury.

5. Sudden or severe belly pain. Most stomach problems like indigestion or gas usually go away in a few hours. But belly pain can sometimes be serious. Take someone to an emergency room if they have severe belly pain, especially if they:

  • could be pregnant
  • also have a fever
  • have pain in the back, chest, neck, or shoulder
  • are vomiting blood or have bloody diarrhea
  • feel stiffness or tenderness in their stomach area

6. Flashes of light. Someone “seeing stars” or light flashes should see a doctor right away. These could be signs of a detached or torn retina, a serious problem that can lead to blindness if it’s not treated early and an especially risky condition to have at work. Some people also see flashes of light before a migraine headache. In very rare cases, light flashes can be a sign of cancer.

7. Signs of stroke. Think F.A.S.T and watch for:

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech problems
  • Time to call 911: If someone shows any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately, even if the symptoms stop. The sooner you get help, the better chances the person will have of surviving.
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Frank Hone is a consumer marketing strategist who focuses on the business impact of engagement strategy for health and well-being improvement... read more 

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Annual Conference

Population Health, Engagament and Patient Portals
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The 2017 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference – commonly known as HiMSS –  was another huge conference that covered so much it was a bit overwhelming.  The number of presentations and vendor booths was incredible and the opportunity to review company IT offerings and network was amazing.

Population Health and Engagement were still major buzzwords at this year’s conference and I had the opportunity to review several of the population health management systems developed by major EMR companies and other vendors.

The focus of these platforms was still on registry type information with the ability to drill down for the doctor, nurse care manager or other.  This year many of the vendors highlighted their new dashboards and other graphical interfaces.  In reviewing these systems and speaking with others, we saw little evidence of user-friendly workflows or for that matter, any real attention paid to the patient.

From the patient perspective, while many of the platforms included patient portals that provided data, a communications component and some patient education – these components were not well thought out and clearly not engaging enough to sustain long term interaction.

In a population health based approach, the patient needs to be actively involved and engaged when they are not at the physician’s office. One of the components of this engagement strategy should be a portal with a solid user experience and relevant information. From years of research along with knowledge gleaned from the retail industry, we know what engages and activates people. Based on this knowledge, these portals should include a stronger focus on the look and feel of the site, the overall patient experience and flow, and leverage gamification, games and behavioral economics.

One simple way to “plug and play” these types of feature sets into the patient portal and add prescribed education to population health programs would be to integrate the EdLogics Platform.

The EdLogics platform greatly increases engagement and incentivizes interaction and learning wherever and whenever the patient is available, providing the education needed to change behaviors.

EdLogics Founder and CEO Tom Chamberlain was interviewed at HiMSS. Listen to the interview here.

Learn more about HiMSS.

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Fred Goldstein is the founder and president of Accountable Health, LLC, a healthcare consulting firm focused on population health. He has over 30 years of experience in population health, disease management, HMO and hospital operations. He is an expert in population health, care more