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WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA AND TEMPLE UNIVERSITY v. MADELYN NIEMANN (04/23/76)

decided: April 23, 1976.

WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA AND TEMPLE UNIVERSITY
v.
MADELYN NIEMANN, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Madelyn Niemann v. Temple University, No. A-69091.

COUNSEL

Sara Duffy, for appellant.

R. D. Harburg, with him Swartz, Campbell & Detweiler, and James N. Diefenderfer, for appellees.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 378]

The very hard facts in this case*fn1 reveal that 26-year-old Madelyn Niemann (claimant) was employed by Temple University (defendant) as a nursing supervisor assigned to defendant's psychiatric unit at the Philadelphia State Hospital. On April 14, 1969, this unfortunate claimant was violently punched in the face by a 240-pound psychotic patient. After receiving some minor emergency care that day, claimant continued to work her very long schedule until the weekend when, due to the fact that she could no longer stand the pain in her face, she was admitted to Temple Hospital for closed

[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 379]

    reduction of fractured nasal bones. Defendant's insurance carrier paid for that initial operation. Two days later claimant returned to work. Claimant continued to have considerable facial pain from her fractured nasal bones and, for that reason, paid little attention to a twinging pain in her neck, left arm, and chest.

Eventually, although it never completely disappeared, the pain in claimant's face subsided, while the pain in her neck, arm, and chest became more severe and therefore more noticeable. Claimant then began her very long search for the medical reasons behind those nonfacial pains and for relief therefrom.

Initially, claimant placed herself in the control of defendant's emergency room where, on her third consultation, a physician in charge finally asked for her medical history. It was then discovered that in the past claimant had suffered from endocarditis. However, after further study, it was determined that claimant's heart was not the cause of her medical problem. Claimant was then twice hospitalized for diagnosis and treatment of her nonfacial pains. During the course of this extensive testing, claimant made all of her doctors -- by this time she had been examined by at least five more physicians in defendant's hospital -- aware of the attack at Philadelphia State Hospital. Nevertheless, none of her doctors were able to pinpoint the cause of her problem or to diagnose any relationship between her nonfacial pain and the original attack.

In December of 1969, claimant, in desperate financial straits because of her inability to work and her large medical and hospital bills, approached the Director of the Temple Community Health Center, Dr. Gardiner, to inquire into the possibility of receiving workmen's compensation benefits because of her disabling nonfacial pain. Dr. Gardiner allegedly advised claimant that she could not file for compensation until she had medical proof that her condition was caused by the attack. Nevertheless,

[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 380]

    claimant subsequently received $200 from the hospital which she characterized as "salary" ...


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