Red flags is a concept which is used to identify potentially serious pathology by identifying key symptoms. It was originally used in low back pain but is now also used in other musculoskeletal conditions. Where relevant, they should be briefly explored at all consultations for the condition.
At the initial assessment it is critical to screen for red flags, which may help identify other physical conditions or serious conditions that may need to be considered or excluded.
Some information about red flags in knee and shoulder injuries can be found in the attached guide to assessing and managing red and yellow flags for workers compensation patients.
If red flags are present, investigate and/or refer all workers as needed. Remember, red flag symptoms can be manifestation of referred pain in other areas.
Manage condition according to clinical findings and available test results. Note:
When considering use of radiology, please refer to WorkCover's Imaging Guidelines.
Cauda Equina, although rare, is a medical emergency and requires urgent attention from a spinal surgeon. The health provider must ensure that a neurosurgeon/spinal surgeon is contacted directly to ensure immediate action is taken. Concerned health practitioners are advised to urgently contact and refer the worker to ensure appropriate and timely care. The usual first contact would be a treating doctor.