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Conducting an Accident Investigation

When an accident occurs in the hospital, of course the first priority should be to get treatment or assistance to the injured staff member. After the initial crisis is over, donít forget to complete an investigation into the circumstances. Most practices do this, but many donít complete the paperwork that PROVES it!

For starters, there should be a written practice policy (e.g., notice on bulletin board) requiring staff members to report EVERY accident or illness that is the result of performing their duties. Designate a specific person as the contact and reinforce the necessity to report the incident when it happens (or as soon as practical in the event of a medical emergency.) The policy should spell out the reporting procedures to follow during normal hours as well as when staff members must work after-hours.

The policy should also explain exactly what type of accidents are considered reportable. According to OSHA standards, any incident that results in one of the following situations is considered work-related and must be investigated:

  • the death of an employee on the job;
  • the loss of consciousness of an employee while on the job;
  • the employee loses at least one day of work because of the incident;
  • the employee's duties or abilities are restricted or he/she is transferred to another job because of the incident (this generally includes animal-inflicted injuries such as bites and severe scratches);
  • the employee receives medical treatment other than first aid (see box for definitions) because of the incident;
  • the employee suffers a fractured or cracked bone, a punctured ear drum or any chronic, irreversible disease as a result of their job;
  • the employee develops cancer, tuberculosis or is removed from their job for medical reasons under an OSHA health standard; or
  • the employee is stuck with a needle or cut from a sharp object that is contaminated with HUMAN blood or HUMAN infectious material during performance of their duties.

Note: Incidents involving non-employees (visitors, clients) should be reported to the insurance company but are not considered workplace accidents according to OSHA standards.

The primary tool for investigating incidents is the accident report. Use OSHA Form 301 or the one prescribed by your insurance carrier if it has all the required information) to document the investigation. Be sure to complete the entire form - if something is not applicable, mark it so, but donít leave it blank. Be as specific as possible about the circumstances surrounding the incident. It usually helps the clarity of the report if someone interviews the injured staff member and completes the form.

Completion of an accident form (or entry of the incident on the OSHA Log 300) does not necessarily correlate to filing a claim for worker's compensation benefits; in some cases an accident or illness qualifies as a recordable incident (meaning it goes on the log and an accident report completed) but since the employee did not seek medical treatment, no claim was filed with the insurance company.

Once all the data has been collected, the Safety Officer or practice leadership must review the incident to determine if any changes must be made to a process or procedure to prevent another accident. The report should be annotated with the date and signature of the reviewer along with any recommendations for changes to the process or training of staff members.

Finally, the incident should be logged on the OSHA Form 300.

Click here for downloadable copies of the new forms.

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The information on these pages is excerpted from The Veterinary Safety & Health Digest and
The Complete Veterinary Practice Regulatory Compliance Manual (5th Edition)  by Philip J. Seibert, Jr., CVT,
Copyright 2003-2001 Philip J. Seibert, Jr., CVT  All Rights Reserved
No part of this publication may be reproduced for distribution without prior permission from the publisher.


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This page was last updated on 01/24/14.

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