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Missouri: $20,000 in Medical Expenses Ordered Paid by Employer for Simple Muscle Strain Due to Lack of Interpreter

February 20, 2015 (1 min read)

An employer must pay almost $20,000 in medical expenses that resulted when a worker—a U.S. citizen—but whose native language is Spanish and who could not read or write English, could not communicate effectively with medical staff who in turn misunderstood his complaints of chest pain as a cardiac event, rather than minor muscle strain. The worker complained of chest pain after he picked up a turkey weighing some 80 pounds and lifted it onto a tray. Fearing the worker might be suffering a heart attack, medical personnel performed EKG, CPK, and other testing, and eventually transferred the worker to a major hospital for additional tests and medical work. There the worker underwent a cardiac catheterization that showed he had normal coronary articles with normal LV function. After the expensive treatment, the worker returned to work without missing any time and suffered no further complications. The employer refused, however, to pay the medical bills. The Commission ordered them paid and the employer appealed. The court affirmed in relevant part, noting that the employer was immediately aware of the worker’s injury and was not prejudiced. The court added it was not unreasonable for emergency and medical personnel to have conducted tests to rule out a heart attack since the consequences of that situation would have been serious. The Commission’s decision requiring the employer to underwrite the cost was supported by substantial evidence.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to

See Gonzales v. Butterball, L.L.C., 2015 Mo. App. LEXIS 139 (Feb. 11, 2015) [2015 Mo. App. LEXIS 139 (Feb. 11, 2015)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 94.02 [94.02]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.









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