Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2007 07:59:24 -0700
Reply-To: DAVID KATZ <dakatz45**At_Symbol_Here**MSN.COM>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: DAVID KATZ <dakatz45**At_Symbol_Here**MSN.COM>
Subject: Re: Undergraduate Accident
Comments: To: Edward Senkbeil

Hi Ed,

First, you did the correct action by washing the affected area with 
water and then seeking qualified medical assistance for the student.  As 
you pointed out, the student was properly escorted to the University 
Health Center.  I'll stress, as others have, NEVER treat a chemical 
injury with another chemical.

The major problem is the University Health Center not being able, or 
willing, to evaluate and treat the chemical burn.  As the student did 
not have medical insurance, she refused hospital emergency room referral 
and possibly risked further consequences from her injury.  
Unfortunately, as is the case for many students who are barely making 
ends meet while attending school, she could not afford her own medical 
insurance and did not get the qualified medical evaluation of her injury 
- that is totally unacceptable.  I don't know what the practice is at 
your university, but, at many schools students are generally required to 
buy a medical policy at some nominal fee (usually less than $100) for 
the year.  If that policy exists at your institution, then it is 
imperative that your institution evaluate that policy to make certain 
that a laboratory injury is covered so the students will receive the 
necessary medical care.  The other option is that the university covers 
the medical cost for the student with the understanding that it is not 
accepting any liability for the accident. The liability issue should be 
separate from insuring the well being of the student as well as the 


  David A. Katz              
  Chemist, Educator, Expert Demonstrator, Science Communicator, and 
  Programs and workshops for teachers, schools, museums, and the public
  133 N. Desert Stream Dr. * Tucson, AZ 85745-2277 *  USA
  voice/fax: (520) 624-2207 * email: 
           Visit my web site:
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Edward Senkbeil 
  To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU 
  Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2007 11:52 AM
  Subject: [DCHAS-L] Undergraduate Accident

  Recently we had an accident in the general chemistry lad where a 
  spilled some 4.0M NaoH on her wrist.
  The protocol we have followed in the past is to wash with water for 15
  minutes and then send to the University Health Center.  We. normally
  follow the protocol to "Protect, but not treat".  The skin was 
  red due to the spill.

  When the student reached (was escorted to) the Health Center, they 
  they could not treat chemical burns.
  They wanted to send her to the hospital emergency room, but the 
  didn't go because of lack of insurance.

  Three days after the accident, the student's wrist still has a few 

  The questions are:

  1. Should we (lab instructors) treat by neutralizing the base with
  something llike vinega, rather than just washing?

  2. Who should be responsible (or maybe liable) for appropriate
  treatment?  Howd do university health centers handle someting like 
  incident at other universities?

  Thanks for any information,
  Ed Senkbeil
  Chemistry Department
  Salisbury University

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