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Claimant was involved in a work-related injury to her low back in 2008, and for the next five years, she received low back treatment – including injections – paid for by the State of Delaware. She then stopped treating for her low back for a few years, until she returned for more injections and ultimately underwent a lumbar fusion surgery from L4-S1. Drs. Eskander and Cucuzzella both testified on behalf of the claimant that the return to treatment and the surgery were part of the progression of the low back injury from 2008. However, Drs. Rushton and Meyers testified on behalf of the State of Delaware that the 2008 accident had involved a temporary aggravation of her low back condition that then resolved. Citing to the progression of findings on the imaging studies, including entirely new findings of spondylolisthesis for the first time in 2015, Dr. Meyers and Dr. Rushton agreed these findings could not be attributable to a single event from nearly a decade earlier.
The Industrial Accident Board found claimant did not meet her burden to prove that the medical treatment since 2017, to include the 2019 lumbar fusion surgery, was causally related to the work accident. The Board accepted the testimony that the frequent imaging studies showed a natural progression of degenerative lumbar disease, which was wholly consistent with the claimant’s age and gender, and which the experts testified could occur without any trauma. One critical finding was the appearance of spondylolisthesis in 2015, seven years after the work accident; because that was a primary component of Dr. Eskander’s rationale for surgery, the Board agreed that it could not link a finding so distant in time back to the work accident.
Should you have any questions regarding this Decision, please contact Nick Bittner, or any other Attorney in our Workers’ Compensation Department.www.hfddel.com 302-573-4800
Linda Callahan Terry v. State of Delaware, IAB No. 1473826, April 29, 2020.