Therapist's pain, increased narcotic medications justify benefits
Case name: Pennewell v. Hannibal Regional Hospital, No. ED98706 (Mo. Ct. App. 01/29/13).
The Missouri Court of Appeals held that a physical therapist was entitled to permanent total disability benefits and compensation for future medical treatment.
What it means: In Missouri, a worker is totally disabled if she is unable to return to any work for any employer due to her physical condition.
Summary: A physical therapist for a hospital injured her back while leading a sports enhancement program. She was treated that day with pain medication, muscle relaxants, and a steroid. Two weeks later, she had pain radiating into her leg. An MRI revealed a central disk protrusion, and she underwent three surgeries. She returned to limited work at the hospital. She reaggravated her injury at work. A neurosurgeon and pain management doctor recommended a spinal cord stimulator. Her doctor declared her to be permanently partially disabled and approaching maximum medical improvement. The therapist continued to report worsening pain. She was prescribed a narcotic drug, and her doctors determined that she could not perform any work. An independent medical examining doctor and a vocational counselor found that she was capable of performing part-time work. The therapist sought benefits. The Missouri Court of Appeals held that she was entitled to PTD benefits and future medical treatment.
The court found sufficient evidence that the therapist was permanently and totally disabled. Her treating doctors opined that she was unable to return to any employment due to her pain. Her pain management doctor explained that her tolerance to pain medication would continue to increase, and the increased medication would affect her ability to concentrate. Although there was conflicting testimony about her ability to work part time, the court deferred to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission's credibility findings.
The court explained that the therapist was not prevented from receiving future medical treatment just because the IME doctor found she reached maximum medical improvement. The evidence showed a reasonable probability that she would require additional medical treatment. Her doctors testified about her continuing pain and need for pain medication.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
May 28, 2013
Copyright 2013© LRP Publications