No benefits awarded for preexisting condition unrelated to work injury
Haftsavar v. All American Carpet and Rugs, Inc., No. 0873-11-4 (Va. Ct. App. 02/14/12).
Ruling: The Virginia Court of Appeals held that an employer was not responsible for the treatment of a worker's heart condition, which occurred prior to repair of his work-related hernia.
What it means: In Virginia, a worker cannot receive compensation for a condition that is discovered after his compensable work-related injury, but not caused by it.
Summary: A worker suffered a compensable hernia arising out of and in the course of his employment while attempting to lift and pull a large box. During the worker's pre-operative clearance evaluation, his primary care physician observed that his electrocardiogram results were abnormal. A cardiologist found the results of a stress test "markedly abnormal." Four days later, the worker underwent emergency coronary bypass grafting surgery after a cardiac catheterization revealed significant obstructions in his coronary arteries. When he recovered from heart surgery, he underwent hernia surgery. The worker sought payment for the medical costs related to his heart surgery. The Virginia Court of Appeals held that the worker was not entitled to compensation for his heart condition.
The worker conceded that his heart condition had no causal connection to his compensable hernia injury. The court also found that the heart condition was not a compensable consequence of his hernia injury. The court found the preexisting coronary artery disease was completely unrelated to the compensable work-related injury.
The worker had not undergone his hernia surgery when he was diagnosed with coronary artery disease. Also, his physicians did not discover his need for heart surgery while in the midst of hernia surgery. The worker did not begin treatment for his hernia injury until more than six months after his heart surgery. The court could not conclude that the treatment of his heart condition was a "medically necessary adjunct" to the treatment of his compensable hernia injury.
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March 26, 2012
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