Nurse Infected with Hepatitis C Denied Second Injury Benefits

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On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Workers’ Compensation on Friday, February 10, 2012

A nurse who contracted hepatitis C while working in a hospital emergency room and filed for worker’s compensation from the second injury fund will not receive it, according to the Missouri Court of Appeals. The ruling appears to suggest that clinical depression is not an “obstacle or hindrance” to working, despite symptoms that include

The male nurse said after contracting the disease in a work injury, he began having symptoms of indecisiveness, fatigue, poor focus, sleep deprivation and hopelessness. He also claimed that the symptoms were an exacerbation of a pre-existing depression conditions. He said that though his depression did not make him unable to work prior to getting infected with hepatitis C on the job, the symptoms from the hepatitis combined with his worsened depression made him unable to work.

But medical reports from a doctor that were presented at trial said that his preexisting depression did not prevent him from working. The hepatitis C has permanently disabled the worker, the court found, but his depression did not count as a pre-existing disability for the purposes of the Second Injury Fund. The expert witness claimed that the nurse was inaccurate with his work history interpretation.

The court said an employed person must indicate the lack of working abilities or obstacles came from the preexisting disability. They said they deemed the cause of the disability came from the results of hepatitis C. Therefore, the nurse’s case was denied.

It is not clear from the ruling whether the appellate court would deny any case of depression is an “obstacle or hindrance” to a person’s ability to work, or if the ruling is narrowly tailored to the nurse’s particular case.

Source: Risk and Insurance, “Inability to work due to work-related injury alone curbs nurse’s claim,” Feb. 2, 2012


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