CALIFORNIA COMPENSATION CASES
Vol. 88, No. 5 May 2023
A Report of En Banc and Significant Panel Decisions of the WCAB and Selected Court Opinions of Related Interest, With a Digest of WCAB Decisions...
By Hon. Susan V. Hamilton, Former Assistant Secretary and Deputy Commissioner, California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board
In 2022 there were 7,490 wildfires in California. They burned 362,455 acres...
By Christopher Mahon
Should temporary workers be treated separately under workers’ compensation law due to additional employment and income risks they may incur after workplace injuries? A new study...
Here's a noteworthy panel decision where a family member conveyed essential information to the AME on behalf of the injured employee. The Lexis headnote is below.
CA - NOTEWORTHY PANEL DECISIONS...
Oakland, CA – Part II of a California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI) research series on low- volume/high-cost drugs used to treat California injured workers identifies three Dermatological drugs...
There have been many cases as of late dealing with Medical Provider Network (MPN) issues. Valdez v. Warehouse Demo Services (2011) 76 Cal. Comp. Cases 970 held that treatment reports obtained by physicians outside of the defendant’s MPN were not admissible and defendant was not liable for the cost. As with any legal issues, there are often exceptions to the general rule. For example, what happens if the injured worker files a claim of injury to multiple body parts and the defendant accepts some but not all of the body parts?
That was precisely the issue presented in Paris v. Savolt Industries, Inc., 2012 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. LEXIS – [free access]. There, applicant had filed an a claim of injury alleging that while employed by defendant on November 28, 2003, he sustained industrial injury to his spine, left upper extremity, and leg. Defendant admitted liability to the spine and leg, but denied the left upper extremity. In December 2003, applicant began treatment with Clayton E. Patchett, M.D. for his industrial injury, including his left upper extremity.
Subsequently, applicant filed another claim of injury alleging cumulative injury to November 28, 2003, to both his upper extremities and his spine. Defendant denied the cumulative trauma claim and in May of 2007, applicant began treating with Phillip A. Sobol, M.D. Applicant continued to treat with Dr. Sobol as his primary treating physician for all body parts, not just the upper extremities. Defendant notified Dr. Sobol that he was not within the MPN and that applicant had been treating within its MPN since 2005.
The Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) found that defendant was not liable for the costs associated with Dr. Sobol’s treatment as it was procured outside of defendant’s MPN. On reconsideration, applicant argued that defendant lost control over medical treatment when it initially denied applicant’s upper extremity injuries and that based on that initial denial, applicant should not now be compelled to treat within the MPN.
On reconsideration, after first reciting the facts, the Commissioners reviewed Labor Code Section 4600 as well as the rules applicable to MPN’s. The Commissioners found:
With respect to the MPN dispute, i.e. the validity of the MPN and the transfer of applicant’s care, we find that there was a validly established, properly noticed MPN. (Defendant’s Ex. J) and applicant is required to continue treatment within the MPN for the accepted body parts. (Valdez v. Warehouse Demo Services (2011) 76 Cal. Comp. Cases 970.) Regarding applicant’s self-procured medical treatment, Dr. Sobol is entitled to be paid for medical treatment only for the upper extremities because defendant denied these body parts. Defendant’s failure to provide reasonably necessary medical treatment as required pursuant to section 4600, justified applicant self-procuring medical treatment at defendant’s expense from Dr. Sobol for his upper extremities. (McCoy v. Industrial Accident Comm. supra. 64 Cal.2d 82 [31 Cal.Comp.Cases 93]; Knight v. United Parcel Service. supra, 71 Cal.Comp.Cases 1423.)
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