Hospital clerk wins benefits for PTSD resulting from hostage incident
Jones v. Catholic Healthcare Partners, Inc., No. 11 MA 23 (Ohio Ct. App. 12/31/12).
Ruling: The Ohio Court of Appeals held that a clerk was entitled to compensation for her wrist injury and post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from a hostage incident.
What it means: In Ohio, an injured worker does not have to show that a physical injury was the sole cause of her PTSD in order for her to receive compensation for the condition.
Summary: A unit clerk for a hospital, along with five coworkers, was taken hostage by an inmate who had been transported to the hospital for treatment. The hospital workers were held for 25 minutes by the inmate, who escaped but was later apprehended. The inmate grabbed the clerk's wrist and banged it against a doorway before threatening her at gunpoint. Later, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The clerk sought workers' compensation benefits for her wrist injury and for PTSD resulting from the same incident. The Ohio Court of Appeals held that she was entitled to benefits for her wrist injury and PTSD.
The hospital asserted that the clerk should be required to show that a compensable physical injury was the sole cause of her PTSD before she could receive compensation for that condition. The court said that the hospital's position would bar benefits for any worker with PTSD after a hostage or other traumatic incident, regardless of whether a compensable physical harm was suffered by the worker in the same incident.
The court explained that testimony by the clerk's treating physician established that her physical injury was a proximate cause of her PTSD, although not the sole cause. She also suffered from the stress of being taken hostage.
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April 15, 2013
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