Workers' Comp Board Decides Lumbar Disc Injury Claim

Joe Di Bartolomeo
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Posted on Feb 01, 2015

This case involved a lumbar disc herniation that occurred after a fall at work.  After the injury, the Claimant was diagnosed with a disc herniation. Even in light of the diagnosis, the employer denied the claim.

The Board reviewed the ALJ's decision adopting the opinion of a physician who felt the disc herniation resulted from the on-the-job injury. This physician was in the unique position of having examined the injured worker two days prior to his on-the-job injury. On that examination, the physician was able to rule out any kind of disc injury. However, the post injury examination showed different symptoms and signs, and from that new evidence, the physician concluded that the disc injury occurred as a result of the on-the-job injury.

The actual surgeon who performed surgery of the lumbar disc injury testified about his findings on the surgery, and explained that his observations at surgery were consistent with a new injury that occurred as a result of the fall at work. The Board adopted this opinion, explaining that the opinion was consistent with the Claimant's history, but was also given added weight because the physician was the actual surgeon who observed the injured disc.

The Employer had retained to physicians to review records, who did not feel that the disc injury was a result of the injury event at work. However, the Board pointed out that these physicians, unlike the treating physician and the surgeon, never examined the injured worker. As result, these opinions were less persuasive.

Although it is rare that a treating physician will have examined an injured worker days prior to an on-the-job injury, prior records of treatment often come into play in showing a change in the medical condition as result of an on-the-job injury. If you have questions about an Oregon Workers' Compensation claim, contact our office at 503-325-8600. We can review your claim, and let you know where you stand.