Home > Uncategorized > IMR: No In-Home Care! PTP: We Asked for Handrails on the Bathtub…

IMR: No In-Home Care! PTP: We Asked for Handrails on the Bathtub…

Hello, dear readers!

Your humble blogger greets you with wishes of a Happy Easter and a Happy Passover!  Some of you, no doubt, are enjoying your Cadbury eggs, laughing maniacally as you observe your fellows eating unleavened bread.  In the meantime, your humble blogger, as he brushes Matzo crumbs off his desk and eagerly awaits the post-Easter chocolate sales, has a bit of a blog post for you.

In the matter of Takafua v. FP International, applicant’s case-in-chief had already been resolved with the future medical care rights left open.  The primary treating physician submitted a request for an assessment of assistive devices, reasoning that the injured worker might need devices for safety reasons at home, and possibly a new vehicle with a new lift.  This followed applicant’s fall in the bathtub, resulting in a head injury and a trip to the emergency room, as well as an ankle sprain.

The request was timely denied by UR.  Then it gets interesting.

IMR issued a decision upholding UR’s denial, reasoning that services at home, such as shopping, cleaning, and laundry, and durable medical equipment, are not necessary.  But the request was for an assessment of applicant’s needs for assistive devices.

The matter proceeded before the WCJ, who ordered IMR to provide a re-review with another reviewer, pursuant to Labor Code section 4610.6(h), under subsection 5: “[t]he determination was the result of a plainly erroneous express or implied finding of fact…”

Now, hypothetically, if IMR had come back and said that it is not reasonable to have assistive devices, perhaps the result should have been different.  After all, if IMR has already determined that whatever devices an assessment would recommend would not be medically necessary, the assessment becomes somewhat of a moot point.  But, in this case, IMR is answering a question no one asked.

Defendant filed for reconsideration and the WCJ’s report was adopted and incorporated, denying the petition.  The matter was denied review.

Now, what result? The original request was made in April of 2014.  That means that, as of January, 2015, the matter could proceed to IMR for a second review.  In other words, a gentleman with an admitted injury to the bilateral knees, already having suffered a fall, a head injury, and a sprained ankle as a result of falling in the tub, will likely wait one year before there is an assessment of what assistive devices he would need in his home and car.

On top of that, defendant is out the litigation costs.  Furthermore, aside from just the human considerations for the potential hurt to applicant – what about the increased medical bills that would likely be tied or claimed to this injury, all on defendant’s dime?

Your humble blogger isn’t privy to all the facts, of course, not having been a party to this case, but from the looks of the WCJ’s report and the panel opinion, it may have been economically prudent, both in the short term and the long term, to just authorize the assessment.  After the assessment came back, it probably would be prudent to authorize the assistive devices too, at least in a financially feasible way.

Why the short term? Because you can probably prevent more injuries, and prevent the need for even MORE medical treatment, by putting handrails in the bathtub and anti-slip mats on the floor.  Why the long term?

Because, in the long term, we in the defense community have a reason to be the reasonable side – not the side making outrageous claims; not the side that’s calloused and foolhardy and reckless with the health of injured workers, like some doctors and attorneys that herd somewhat-injured workers into serious surgeries to be maimed.

We want the credibility of denying medical treatment for a good reason – such as a spinal surgery in a particular applicant’s case will likely maim him or that general anesthetic, in another case, will likely kill the patient because of his morbid obesity and the extra difficulty in properly calculating the right amount of sedative.

Or, the more common and less dramatic scenario, that because the last 8 chiropractic sessions have proved completely ineffective, further chiropractic treatment is inappropriate at this time, or that if applicant can take a 1 hour bus ride, he’s not entitled to a limo instead.

Gear up, dear readers – it’s going to be a bumpy week!

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