Debate and Discussion

Spreading pandemics...
ipokino at 11:19AM, Nov. 11, 2009
(offline)
posts: 161
joined: 2-25-2007
Example: A young mother has a child at home sick with known case of swine flu (H1N1) goes to work knowing that the disease is airborne, knowing she has been massively exposed and that the incubation period is long. She says, she has no symptoms and in any case, cannot afford to take time off work.

Question 1: Is she being irresponsible to her co-workers?

Question 2: If a death results from her exposing her co-workers to this (or any disease) should she be held liable?
(ie: HIV carriers having unsafe sex with out telling partners of their HIV infection…they are currently legally laible in the USA)

Question 3: If the workplace is informed and do nothing (ie make worker go home) should the company be held liable if a death occurs?

Question 4: If liability should NOT be incurred for a ‘weak’ illness such as swine flu–at what percentage of lethality SHOULD liability be invoked.

Question 5: If liability is not allowed, what is to prevent a pandemic from being spread by people who refuse to be responsible for their behavior?

Question 6: If Quarantines are indicated–should companies be forced to allow sick time for exposed–potentially ill workers? Should responsible doctors endorse quarantine procedures for sick time requirements?

The reason I ask…the above scenerio is currently playing out in my shop. Just thought I'd check in and see what you guys think of all this.
(
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:02PM
Insizwa at 11:59AM, Nov. 11, 2009
(offline)
posts: 284
joined: 4-9-2007
“In July 2009, the CDC noted that most infections were mild, similar to seasonal flu, recovery tended to be fairly quick, and deaths to date had been only a fraction of the number of people who die every year from seasonal flu. The 1918 flu epidemic began with a wave of mild cases in the spring, followed by more deadly waves in the autumn, eventually killing hundreds of thousands in the United States. Researchers from the University of Maryland mixed swine flu and seasonal flu and concluded that the swine flu was unlikely to get more lethal.”

Swine Flu is nothing to get your panties in a knot over, it's just a different strain of flu. Once you've been exposed to it and your body starts producing anti-bodies then you'll be A-OK. The people who've died so far from H1N1 have had other health problems and had shitty immune systems.

As for the example the only way I could see it being a problem is if she works in a hospital, in that case she could be liable. It would be even more dangerous if she went to work with seasonal flu, because apparently that's more lethal. I really think things like quarantines, are really too much; when did everyone become a germaphobe? If you're REALLY afraid of catching the flu you could just protect yourself by getting vaccinated (though I heard there's a 50% chance of getting it from the vaccine), or you could go around with a nifty surgeon mask on, and wash your damn hands.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:01PM
ozoneocean at 8:31PM, Nov. 11, 2009
(online)
posts: 24,789
joined: 1-2-2006
Insizwa
Swine Flu is nothing to get your panties in a knot over, it's just a different strain of flu.
Obviously you didn't look too deeply into that particula issue… One of the key problems with Swine flu was that many young healthy people were suffering quite badly from it and deaths as well as bother bad problems with it seemed to affect younger people disproportionately- UNLIKE normal seasonal flu with mainly kills off the old and very young.

ipokino
Question 1: Is she being irresponsible to her co-workers?
Yes

ipokino
Question 2: If a death results from her exposing her co-workers to this (or any disease) should she be held liable?
(ie: HIV carriers having unsafe sex with out telling partners of their HIV infection…they are currently legally laible in the USA)
Yes

ipokino
Question 3: If the workplace is informed and do nothing (ie make worker go home) should the company be held liable if a death occurs?
Yes

ipokino
Question 4: If liability should NOT be incurred for a ‘weak’ illness such as swine flu–at what percentage of lethality SHOULD liability be invoked.
When any death* or significant loss of income results.
*Including a worker's relatives from tertiary exposure.

ipokino
Question 5: If liability is not allowed, what is to prevent a pandemic from being spread by people who refuse to be responsible for their behavior?
Nothing except bosses telling people to stay home.

ipokino
Question 6: If Quarantines are indicated–should companies be forced to allow sick time for exposed–potentially ill workers? Should responsible doctors endorse quarantine procedures for sick time requirements?
Yes
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:35PM
ipokino at 3:24AM, Nov. 12, 2009
(offline)
posts: 161
joined: 2-25-2007
@ Ozoneocean–

You are correct in noting that swine flu, while considered ‘weak’ generally, is still a serious disease…one that can easy mutate into a more virulent form at the drop of a hat. I guess my real point has grown around the inter-office discussion we were having concerning this.
I am actually quite angry at this young woman who is acting irresponsibly by coming to work, knowing she is exposed. Her rationale is, I have to work, I have no paid sick time. I'm NOT sick so I can't justify sick time and no doctor will give me a note!
In any pandemic, it is the attitude of people like this who, through irresponsibility, spread the disease. I think the only way to stop this behavior is to hold persons liable for their behaviors. One person causes the death of another through spreading a disease (relatives included) and gets the pants sued off them for wrongful death, and suddenly everyone will open their eyes to this.

However, the courts aren't going to support this in the case of diseases considered ‘mild’ where a death is more the cause of a weak immune system as opposed to a dangerous illness. It's not quite so cut and dried…wish it was!

I guess this is a boring topic huh?!?
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:02PM
BffSatan at 3:28AM, Nov. 12, 2009
(online)
posts: 1,478
joined: 3-2-2008
It's called a sickie mate.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:21AM
Lonnehart at 1:21PM, Nov. 12, 2009
(online)
posts: 2,477
joined: 3-16-2006
Here's another question. Even though your boss knows you've got the swine flue, would he/she be liable for “ordering” you to come to work or else you lose your job? Should you be held liable for giving in to the demands of your boss because you simply don't have a choice (since work pays the bills and such)?
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:39PM
ipokino at 2:12AM, Nov. 13, 2009
(offline)
posts: 161
joined: 2-25-2007
@ Lonnehart

Again, I think the example, using swine flu, is taking over the perceptions here. I'm not talking just about swine flu, but any infectious disease that spreads quickly and has the potential to be highly lethal. It could be hemorrhagic fever like ebola, or pustulant like the black plague or anthrax, or even something we have not seen yet!
I absolutely think employers need to be responsible about being proactive–but often the employer is the last to know about worker illness trends. The onus has to be on the individual to act responsibly. But people are selfish…and survival oriented in the short term far more so than socially conscious in the long. In our young mother example, not tossing off a week's pay–which in the larger scheme of things IS actually a minor thing–is hugely selfish compared to the possible death of another person. But without liabilty being invoked–this kind of behavior will not change!
On another selfish note…I am certain my employer would absolutely send the woman home–if they were informed ‘officially’ because once that action occurs, the company would definately be liable for any deaths. However, the company also absolutely does NOT want to be placed in that position, so you can bet the ‘whistle-blower’ would be looking for work shortly after the incident cleared up…which is why I selfishly have done nothing.

As I see it, plans to help limit or prevent pandemics need to be put in place, and a reasonable ‘Index of Lethality’ designed and put into place to govern liability limits. But I don't know how one goes about doing this–heh, I can barely promote a comic in half-assed fashion…
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:02PM
PhilWrede at 1:43PM, Nov. 13, 2009
(offline)
posts: 83
joined: 10-26-2009
I'm in complete agreement with ozone's answers to your questions, ipokino (though to add to #5, this sounds like a good venue for some kind of government regulation. Don't ask me what, though, because I haven't had enough time to consider it fully). At the university where I work, we've been told explicitly and repeatedly that if we exhibit symptoms in line with H1N1, we're to stay home until we're symptom-free (this is one of those times where working for the state comes in handy - if you got sick - because the university'll provide any infected employee with up to 1 week of paid sick leave).

My girlfriend, on the other hand, works for a small company that doesn't offer paid sick leave. But they've still been told by the owners to stay the hell away if they fall ill, and they (the owners) would take a very active hand in preventing an infected employee (be it a bad cold, the plague, some kind of space virus) from threatening the rest of their workforce.

This reminds me somewhat of those kids in California whose parents didn't vaccinate them, and as a result, caused a measles outbreak in San Diego. People need to consider the consequences of their decisions to the world outside of themselves.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:43PM
Queen Simia at 6:53PM, Nov. 13, 2009
(online)
posts: 11
joined: 9-10-2009
From what I understand, people have been advised to stay home only if they're exhibiting symptoms. Has she presented with any?

Yes, the incubation period is long, but the virus isn't emanating from people like an aura. It has to be transmitted via expulsion from their respiratory systems, which I'm pretty sure doesn't include normal breathing. There is such a thing as caution, but behaving as if she's a leper without solid proof that she is a health threat (coughing, sneezing, obvious fatigue) is overreacting.

She does have a valid point in that she needs to continue working as long as she isn't sick. Caring for a sick child ain't cheap, and bills stop for no H1N1 patient's family.

You are free to take all the measures you feel are necessary to preserve your own sense of well-being, but unless the worker in question is really and truly symptomatic - not just exposed and potentially incubating - there is no reason for her to take time off, especially if she can't afford to.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:57PM
Lonnehart at 7:26PM, Nov. 13, 2009
(online)
posts: 2,477
joined: 3-16-2006
Unfortunately I just came down with the flu recently, but even though I was clearly sick my boss told me to come in to work anyway. Fortunately (so far) I'm put in places where my contact with people is minimal, but if my condition gets worse that I can't call for help I may as well look forward to looking at those pearly gates… or that huge burning lake…
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:39PM
Evil_Hare at 6:33PM, Nov. 20, 2009
(online)
posts: 183
joined: 9-28-2009
Don't believe the hype.

They have been documenting anything involving so much as a few symptoms as ‘swine flu’ without actually testing for it to beef up the numbers. Why would they do this? Because there's a big big company selling the vaccine… the same company that deliberately sold HIV tainted blood all over the world… by their own admission.


So… would you trust them to tell you the truth?

I haven't had any kind of flu since 1989. Drink lots of water, eat right an d exercise, and you can be an immunological beast like me :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:24PM
The Gravekeeper at 4:21PM, Feb. 3, 2010
(offline)
posts: 232
joined: 3-13-2009
Evil_Hare
Don't believe the hype.

They have been documenting anything involving so much as a few symptoms as ‘swine flu’ without actually testing for it to beef up the numbers. Why would they do this? Because there's a big big company selling the vaccine… the same company that deliberately sold HIV tainted blood all over the world… by their own admission.


So… would you trust them to tell you the truth?

I haven't had any kind of flu since 1989. Drink lots of water, eat right an d exercise, and you can be an immunological beast like me :)

Good for you. But how about the people with weakened immune systems, the very young or the very old? Just because swine flu won't affect you harshly doesn't mean that you can't spread it to someone who can die from it. There's also the fact that it has killed young adults, something that's extremely rare for flu viruses to do.

If you don't want to get the vaccine, fine. And yes, I would trust professionals who went to school and got their PhDs over some random person over the internet who hasn't had any medical training. It's the whole “expertise” thing.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:14PM
LOOKIS at 10:21PM, Feb. 8, 2010
(offline)
posts: 82
joined: 1-4-2010
What if the boss is afraid of Swine Flu and shuts down the operation?

Thus making everyone less able to pay their rent and house payments. And then one laid-off worker becomes homeless, has to sleep in a shelter, contracts Swine Flu there, and dies.

Can that worker's relatives sue the boss for causing the death of the worker?
………………. LEAVE THIS SPACE BLANK …………………
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:39PM
The Gravekeeper at 10:28PM, Feb. 8, 2010
(offline)
posts: 232
joined: 3-13-2009
LOOKIS
What if the boss is afraid of Swine Flu and shuts down the operation?

Thus making everyone less able to pay their rent and house payments. And then one laid-off worker becomes homeless, has to sleep in a shelter, contracts Swine Flu there, and dies.

Can that worker's relatives sue the boss for causing the death of the worker?

If they shut down the entire operation for that long because of a single case, they probably shouldn't be in business. I'm pretty sure there are other things you could press charges for if your boss pulled that one, anyway.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:14PM

Forgot Password
©2011 WOWIO, Inc. All Rights Reserved