Are we really healthier?

More than 84 percent of workers admit coming to work sick

Sick at Work: More than 84 percent of workers admit coming to work sick by: Ned Smith, Dec 21, 2012, Business News Daily

The premise of the above article titled, “Sick at Work,” published in Business News Daily by Ned Smith, is that  workplaces are becoming breeding grounds for bacteria and sickness.  I was struck by this article, not for the valid point that when people come to work they are bringing disease into the workplace, but more by the idea that this is some new trend.  Perhaps the author did not intend this deduction but in speaking to a few people after reading the article, many made comments from the perspective that this was somehow a new trend and also something that is morally not acceptable.

Morals aside, this is not a new trend.  It is the normative behavior and something that only recently has had any alternate expectation.  Workplaces for centuries have been breeding grounds of disease, infection, and injury.  It was so bad in the early part of the 19th century that the gains that we had made in extending life from the average span of late 20’s in the early 1700s up to the early 40s by 1810s was reversed statistically back to the late twenties by 1840 as a result of the industrial revolution.

This article is interesting to me because it illustrates an expectation for a behavior that has simply never existed.  People , for the most part, have always gone to work when sick for a number of reasons.  First, historically, they could not stay home because there was no such thing as sick days, PTO and time off—they would have lost their job and/or not gotten paid if they did not work.  For many others, not involved in industrial labor or work by the physical activities of hunting, fishing and farming.  No work meant no eating. So people when they were sick, lived with it or died trying.

Second, we were not germ conscious till the early 1800s and not hyper conscious about germs till the middle of the 1900s. Society know little of sanitation. People were routinely exposed to numerous bacteria and viruses and for the most part their immune systems were able to fight them off due to natural selection.  Prior to the discovery of antibiotics, the people that were at risk of these diseases either got sick, fought it off and recovered or they died and did not reproduce any further.

With the birth of germ theory in the mid 1800s, through the discovery of antibiotics and later penicillin in the mid 1900s all this has changed.  Today, we are more sensitive to the bacterial and viral realm that we were, and the pathogenic organisms that prey on us and harm or kill us are now much stronger organisms, due to their own natural selection. As we have used biochemical warfare to kill off their species, some strong ones survived, reproduced and the resulting organisms were soon no longer susceptible to the antibiotic. So, today we are weaker immunologically and the other species that hunt us are stronger, both are the result of our relatively modern practice of pulling ourselves out of natural selection by protecting us with artificial methods.

We are now more at risk and since we remain susceptible and we live to reproduce we are producing children that have not been selected for their resistance so these future generations will be at more risk than us. Times do change you know!

There is no alternative and I am not advocating some naturalist approach, just remarking as to the conundrum.

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About Thomas W. Loker

Meet the Author - Thomas Loker is a Startup Consultant and Advisor at SYDK.ORG, Angel Investor, Mentor and Advisor at Keiretsu Forum & Venture-Med and an established operations guy with serial successes with startups, transitional companies and turnaround situations. He has had a long career serving in the fields of science, technology and healthcare related industries. He is an active board member in both for-profit and not-for-profit companies. Tom has written numerous articles in the areas of healthcare, technology, politics and the economy. He is currently the principal author of Health Reform 2.0: Beyond partisan divide lies pragmatic solutions – a whitepaper focused on moving beyond the partisan rhetoric of the ACA (Obamacare) to a simple, efficient, effective, accessible and affordable healthcare system. He maintains a passion for serving the underserved and has founded, supported and worked in various companies to serve the most fragile among us. Because of his expertise on the business of healthcare, he was invited to conduct multiple congressional briefings on healthcare reform in Congress, meeting with more than 100 congressional representatives. He has been a guest on HuffPost Live to talk about health care issues, and is a frequent keynote speaker on the topic for many groups and events. Prior to his latest book, The History and Evolution of Healthcare in America: The untold backstory of where we've been, where we are, and why healthcare needs more reform, Tom published “Delusional Ravings of a Lunatic Mind”—a collection of essays on healthcare, politics and their interaction with the economy, available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and other bookstores. Tom's passion for Music is currently expressed by his role as VP Operations and General Manager of David Victor Presents. See www, to find out more. You can find Tom online at: Website: Blog: LinkedIn: Photography:

One thought on “Are we really healthier?

  1. Pingback: Dan Brown’s Inferno: A Coming Global Crisis? | Health Care: Crisis in America

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