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In re Compensation of Arms

Court of Appeals of Oregon

June 6, 2018

In the Matter of the Compensation of Tommy S. Arms, Claimant.
v.
SAIF CORPORATION and Harrington-Campbell, Inc. - Harrington Construction, Respondents. Tommy S. ARMS, Petitioner,

          Argued and submitted September 26, 2017

          Workers' Compensation Board 1005062, 1002902;

          Christine Jensen argued the cause and fled the briefs for petitioner.

          Julie Masters argued the cause and fled the brief for respondents.

          Before DeHoog, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Chief Judge, and Aoyagi, Judge.

         Case Summary:

         Claimant, who has an accepted claim for a disc herniation at C5-6, seeks judicial review of an order of the Workers' Compensation Board. The board held that proposed surgical treatment for the worsening of claimant's preexisting cervical condition at C6-7, caused in major part by treatment of the C5-6 disc herniation, is not compensable, because the worsened condition is a "consequential condition, " and the medical treatment is not directed only to the consequential condition but to the preexisting component of claimant's condition. Held: The board erred in concluding that the treatment is not compensable because it is directed in part to a condition that preexisted the worsening of claimant's condition. If claimant's work injury (or its treatment) was the major contributing cause of the worsening of claimant's preexisting condition, then surgery directed to the treatment of that worsened condition is compensable, whether or not the surgery also incidentally treats that portion of claimant's C6-7 condition that preexisted the accepted C5-6 disc herniation.

         Reversed and remanded.

         [292 Or.App. 218] EGAN, C. J.

         Claimant seeks review of an order of the Workers' Compensation Board holding that proposed surgical treatment for the worsening of claimant's preexisting cervical condition is not compensable, because the worsened condition is a "consequential condition, " and the medical treatment is not directed only to the consequential condition but to the preexisting component of claimant's condition. We conclude that the board erred and we therefore remand the case to the board for reconsideration.

         The issue in this case concerns a question of statutory construction with respect to the interplay of ORS 656.245 and ORS 656.225. We set out those statutes, as relevant, for context.

         ORS 656.245(1)(a) provides:

"For every compensable injury, the insurer or the self-insured employer shall cause to be provided medical services for conditions caused in material part by the injury for such period as the nature of the injury or the process of the recovery requires, subject to the limitations in ORS 656.225, including such medical services as may be required after a determination of permanent disability. In addition, for consequential and combined conditions described in ORS 656.005(7), the insurer or the self-insured employer ...

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