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Claimant was involved in a rear-end motor vehicle accident with acknowledged injuries to his neck and low back. For a brief time after the work accident, claimant was noted to have weakness in his lower extremities; however, those findings quickly resolved and did not return. Dr. Eskander proposed a two-level lumbar surgical procedure, designed to “free up the nerves.” Dr. Eskander maintained that the lack of neurological compromise was proof of spinal stenosis; however, Dr. Schwartz testified on behalf of the Employer that this is not the case and that this surgery should not occur on a normal neurological examination.
The Industrial Accident Board found claimant did not meet his burden of proving the surgery was reasonable and necessary treatment for his condition. The Board accepted Dr. Schwartz’s testimony and emphasized the importance of claimant’s lack of neurological findings across multiple examinations, particularly with respect to claimant’s normal gait and the lack of a positive EMG. While the Board accepted there was a period of neurological compromise, it cautioned that “one does not operate because, once upon a time, one had symptoms.” Further, without the presence of current neurological problems, the risk of a complicated two-level surgery was significant and not justified. The Petition was denied outright, and the surgery deemed unreasonable and unnecessary.
Should you have any questions regarding this Decision, please contact Nick Bittner, or any other Attorney in our Workers’ Compensation Department.
Raymond Thompkins v. Reynolds Transportation, IAB No. 1482461, March 13, 2020.