Lack of objective medical findings results in reversal of award
Case name: McKee Foods Corp. & Risk Management Resources v. Balli, No. CA08-682 (Ark. Ct. App. 01/07/09, unpublished).
Ruling: The Arkansas Court of Appeals reversed the Workers' Compensation Commission's award of additional medical benefits for treatment of the claimant's vertigo or functional disorder on the grounds that no objective medical findings supported the award.
What it means: Arkansas law defines "objective findings" as "those findings which cannot come under the voluntary control of the patient." Without objective medical findings, workers' compensation benefits may not be awarded for an injury or condition.
Summary: The claimant sustained a concussion and laceration after the chair she was sitting in broke and her head hit the floor. She claimed that she experienced dizziness numerous times per day and could not operate machinery or drive a car because of the dizziness. Her physician diagnosed benign positional vertigo and opined that it was causally related to the industrial accident.
In response to the claimant's petition for additional benefits related to the treatment of vertigo or functional disorder, the commission awarded her medical benefits but denied her request for additional temporary total disability benefits. The Court of Appeals reversed the award of additional medical benefits, explaining that under Arkansas law, a compensable injury must be established by medical evidence supported by objective findings.
The appeals court noted that all of the diagnostic tests performed on the claimant were either unremarkable or negative. Although the laceration on the claimant's scalp was noted in the medical records, the court reasoned that she had already received medical benefits for the laceration. Because no objective medical findings supported the claimant's vertigo or functional disorder as work-related injuries, the commission erred in awarding additional medical benefits to treat these conditions.
February 26, 2009
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