Minor Cat Scratch Incident Becomes a Serious Loss

Loss Amount: $157,000

Situation: A Veterinary Technician was handling a client’s cat during treatment when it scratched her on the wrist. She didn’t think the injury was serious and, although other staff including veterinarians at the practice witnessed it, nobody reported the incident to the Office Manager, who reported claims to the insurance carrier.

The scratch injury did not heal as expected and more than two weeks later the employee notified her employer. The practice owner then wanted to treat the case internally, but this proved to be unsuccessful. Exactly one month after the accident the employee was finally admitted to a hospital emergency room for what appeared to be a serious infection, and the carrier was notified of the claim.

The infection was serious. In fact, the employee did not respond to initial antibiotic treatments and needed to be hospitalized for long term intensive care. Eventually the infection was brought under control and tests showed there were no permanent effects on her immune system as had been feared.  Unfortunately, associated pain the woman suffered in the joints of her injured hand caused her to guard this extremity for a prolonged time, and as a result there was a permanent loss of mobility. The woman’s disability prevented her from continuing to pursue a career in the veterinary field. Instead, she was retrained into another field.

The initial injury did not appear serious in this case, but how it was handled was critical to its outcome.

Here are the steps to prevent this situation:

  • Instruct all employees to notify management in the event of any workplace injury, no matter how minor it appears at the time. This policy should be posted and reinforced periodically to emphasize its importance.
  • Seek medical care from a qualified industrial medical treatment facility and monitor the status of injured workers. Treatment defined as “first aid” in the beginning may require more extensive medical attention if things get worse, and good communication with your staff is the best way to determine the status of the situation.
  • Report all work-related employee injuries to Fireman’s Fund promptly, regardless of whether they fall under the definition of “first aid” or not. This will allow us to effectively manage the case if it is necessary.

For further assistance in preventing all types of losses, call VISC at 888.762.3143.