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Appeals court affirms cardiac arrest attached to fall claim


A specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation can attach a cardiac arrest episode to a workers compensation claim related to an earlier fall down a staircase at work, an appeals court in New York ruled Thursday.

The man injured his ankle in the 2018 fall and was diagnosed with an ankle sprain and fitted for a boot and elastic supports, according to documents in 2021 NY Slip Op 01307, et al., filed in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Third Department, in Albany. 

While at home a month after suffering his injury, he experienced “recurring syncopal episodes, shortness of breath and chest pain” and was hospitalized after being diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis of the popliteal vein of the left lower extremity. After a 22-day stay in the hospital his claim was amended to include those diagnoses, “which were found to be causally related to the treatment for his initial injury,” documents state.

After considering additional medical evidence and testimony, a workers compensation law judge amended the claim to include major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder and cardiac arrest.  

The employer’s workers compensation insurer, which was not named in the ruling, “took exception to the amendment of the claim to include cardiac arrest” and filed an application with the Workers' Compensation Board for review, “contending that there was no medical evidence to support the claim for cardiac arrest,” according to documents.

Citing medical testimony from two specialists that connected the earlier injury to the cardiac issues, the board concluded that “there was medical evidence to support the amendment of the claim” and upheld the workers compensation law judge’s decision.

On further appeal, five judges with a state appellate court affirmed, writing that there was “competent medical evidence in the record before us to support the Board's finding that claimant suffered cardiac issues and problems … concededly directly related to his underlying injury.”