Safety – Medical treatment case

Medical treatment injury

Medical treatment case definition and more helpful info

Medical treatment case definition

The definition of a medical treatment injury or medical treatment case is when a workplace injury, illness or disease resulted in a certain level of treatment given by a physician or other medical personnel under the standing orders of a physician.

The most confusing grey area for companies looking at their safety metrics and KPIs is the difference between medical treatment injuries and first aid injuries. While there is a slither of overlap and that both require 'treatment', the key difference is that a medical treatment case is actually defined as 'requiring' more than first aid.

To further clarify this, OSHA and other authorities have defined what first aid treatment is; if we know what first aid is - then we can quite easily understand and clarify medical treatment cases.

The apparently exhaustive list of first-aid treatments include (here's the full list):

  • Applying band-aids, gauze pads and butterfly bandages
  • Use of non-rigid means of support like elastic bandages and wraps
  • Cleaning wounds on the surface of the skin
  • Removing splinters
  • Drinking fluids to relieve heat stress

To further clarify injury types, OSHA also offers 5 criteria which reinforce and help to cement these differences:

  • First aid is usually administered after the injury or illness occurs and at the location where the injury or illness occurred (e.g., the workplace).
  • First aid generally consists of one-time or short-term treatment.
  • First-aid treatments are usually simple and require little or no technology.
  • First aid can be administered by people with little training (beyond first-aid training) and even by the injured or ill person.
  • First aid is usually administered to keep the condition from worsening, while the injured or ill person is awaiting medical treatment.

Understanding and clarifying injuries properly is really important, because medical treatment cases and first aid injuries are 'filed' and counted in separate KPI categories which then feed into a companies safety scores.

Examples of medical treatment cases and injuries

Companies are required to report all workplace injuries which result in:

  • Death or loss of consciousness
  • Days away from work or lost time injuries
  • Restriction to work activities or job transfers
  • A significant injury or illness diagnosed by a licensed healthcare professional or a medical treatment injury

Some good examples of this last and most subtle category of medical treatment cases include:

  • Use or prescription medication beyond a single dose administered on a first visit or minor injury
  • More than one (visit) therapeutic treatment including physiotherapy or chiropractic
  • Stitches or sutures
  • Treatment of infection
  • Application of antiseptic during a second visit
  • Removal of foreign objects in an eye or wound (not a splinter)
  • Treatment of deep tissue burns
  • X-ray diagnosis of fractures, broken bones
  • Admission to hospital or equivalent medical facility

You can probably see the severity of these injuries in comparison to first aid injuries, and see why it is important to clarify them differently. Simply counting the number of injuries is an insufficient indicator without segmenting them in terms of injury severity.

How to calculate your medical treatment case frequency rate

Understanding the number of medical treatment cases sustained on a given project or in a given period of time can be really helpful in comparing current performance to previous performance and tracking these numbers over time.

But what is also helpful is measuring 'internal' performance against industry and similar company benchmarks. In order to do this, you must standardise the number of MTI's recorded at your company into a number which can be compared directly to these other companies who may have more or less employees and more or less hours worked.

To do this, companies use the medical treatment case frequency rate. This 'rate' is used to calculate the rate of medical treatment cases experienced in a workplace or on a project regardless of how many people were working on it and how many hours were worked.

The formula for doing this calculation is:

(Medical treatment injuries x 1,000,000) / total hours worked = MTI frequency rate

Some good workplace surveys back in the early 2000's show some of the MTIFR results for the chemical and plastics injuries, where they averaged between 9.4 and 14.1 medical treatment cases per 1,000,000 hours worked.

The hidden and very real costs of medical treatment cases for workers, companies and society

Everyone wants to avoid medical treatment cases:

  • No workers wants to experience pain and time away from work recovering form an injury
  • Companies don't want to lose productive hours and experience the disruption of having to move workers around and hire temporary people
  • Society and other stakeholders generally have a zero harm policy today and the expectation of people coming home from work safely

There are very real downsides to any medical treatment case, and it is something which all companies have been working hard on in recent years.

Industries like construction face even more scrutiny and pressure to lower their MTI's, as historical data points to the industry having 4x higher medical treatment costs than most industries.

These costs impact the success of construction firms, as well as the lives of construction workers and the success of our infrastructure, buildings and other construction projects.

Lowering medical treatment cases and medical treatment cases is a collective goal which companies, workers and authorities need to continue to work towards.


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About Lance Hodgson

Lance is VP of Marketing at Sitemate. His aim is to bring awareness to a brighter future for the Built World where industrial workers and companies work smarter.

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