Technician fails to connect splash incident with corneal ulcer
Adams v. St. Vincent Health System, No. CA12-611 (Ark. Ct. App. 04/03/13).
Ruling: The Arkansas Court of Appeals held that a technician was not entitled to benefits for her eye injury.
What it means: In Arkansas, a medical opinion that an event "could" have or "possibly" caused an injury is insufficient to establish causation.
Summary: A patient care technician for a hospital claimed that she developed a corneal ulcer as the result of having urine splashed in her face while taking care of a patient in the course of her employment. Three weeks before the incident, the technician was treated for a nonwork-related eye condition related to contact lens use. She was prescribed antibiotic drops at that time. The Arkansas Court of Appeals held that she was not entitled to benefits for her eye condition.
The court could not say that the Workers' Compensation Commission was compelled to find that the technician's corneal ulcer resulted from or was exacerbated by the work incident. She was treated for an eye condition three weeks before the alleged work-related incident. Her treating physician stated that urine is usually sterile and does not contain bacteria.
The physician opined that it was not impossible that the incident played a part in her eye condition. However, it was possible that improper hygiene and care connected to her contact lens use could have been the cause of the ulcer. The court explained that a medical opinion that an event "could" have or "possibly" caused an injury is insufficient to establish causation. Based on the physician's testimony and evidence that the technician was treated with antibiotic eye drops three weeks before the incident, the court concluded that the technician failed to prove that the corneal ulcer was caused by the work incident.
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July 15, 2013
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