Occupational First Aid
During a busy shift, an employee cuts himself on a piece of metal and reports the injury to his manager. Is this an injury that requires first aid, or not? Employers assume that there is an easy answer, but until an examination by a physician is done, the answer is unknown.
One of the frequently asked questions physicians receive from employers is whether something is considered first aid. According to the First Aid Labor Code Section 5401, "First aid means any one-time treatment, and any follow-up visit for the purpose of observation of minor scratches, cuts, burns, splinters or other minor industrial injury, which do not ordinarily require medical care."
Examples of first-aid cases could include:
- Abrasions needing minor care
- Minor lacerations requiring Steri-strips
- Mild contusions
- Mild strains and treatment of sprains with over-the-counter medications
Any other injuries might not be considered first aid and may require more attention.
While it's understandable that employers want to keep their health care costs down, the best thing employers can do to protect their employees is to present all injuries to a physician so he or she can determine how the injury should be treated, and to determine whether it's considered first aid according to state regulations. In any case, it is recommended that the injured employee visit the doctor to avoid infections or complications.
"Our physicians are very proactive in appropriately identifying an injury as a first aid case to assist employers in keeping their insurance premiums at a minimum while still providing the patient with the best medical care," said Dr. Stephen Munday, medical director at Sharp Rees-Stealy Occupational Health.
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"I try to get patients back to both work and normal activity levels as quickly as possible."