Preexisting cardiovascular disease doesn't block finding of causation
Case name: API, Inc., 112 NYWCLR 171 (N.Y.W.C.B., Full Board 2012).
The New York Workers' Compensation Board held that the death of a metal fabricator, who stopped breathing at work and was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital, was causally related to his work.
What it means: In New York, where the county medical examiner provides credible medical testimony that a worker's work activities contributed to his fatal heart attack, and it is undisputed that he was in the course of his employment when he became fatally ill, the worker's preexisting advanced cardiovascular disease will not block a finding that his death was causally related to his work.
Summary: The board held that the death of a 47-year-old metal fabricator, who stopped breathing at work and was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital, was causally related to his work. The death certificate indicated that the immediate cause of death was acute right coronary artery thrombosis due to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. A county medical examiner who performed an autopsy opined that the fabricator's work activities contributed to his heart attack. The carrier's consulting doctor opined that the fabricator's work activities did not play a role in his death. The board determined that the opinion of the county medical examiner was more credible than that of the carrier's consulting doctor. The county medical examiner found that the fabricator's thrombosis would have broken off within minutes prior to his death. The carrier's consulting physician did not disagree with the timing of these events, and it was undisputed that the fabricator was in the course of his employment when he became fatally ill. The board noted that although both doctors agreed the autopsy showed that the fabricator had advanced cardiovascular disease, there was no evidence that he had received treatment or had been diagnosed with the condition prior to his death.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
December 10, 2012
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