Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Katherine Borkowski v. John F. Kennedy Medical Center, No. A-81663.
Richard P. Abraham, with him Jane Combrinck-Graham, Abraham, Pressman & Bauer, P.C., for petitioner.
Martin J. Fallon, Jr., Swartz, Campbell & Detweiler, for respondent, John F. Kennedy Medical Center and Argonaut Insurance Companies.
Judges Rogers, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 74 Pa. Commw. Page 311]
Katherine Borkowski (Claimant) appeals from a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which affirmed a referee's dismissal of her claim petition.
On January 10, 1974, Claimant slipped and fell backwards on a patch of ice on a sidewalk which led from the parking lot to the entrance of her place of employment, John F. Kennedy Medical Center (Employer or hospital). Claimant got up on her own and continued into work. Claimant was examined that day at the hospital dispensary as a result of her complaints of pain in the coccygeal area. Claimant had experienced such pain occasionally since a fall in 1971.*fn1 Claimant continued in her regular employment for approximately seventeen months after the January 10, 1974 fall without loss of time attributable to any lower back problems. Claimant was admitted to Women's Medical College Hospital in May of 1975, where surgery was performed for the removal of a small bony growth from the area of the coccyx. She continued to experience pain and so surgery was again performed in October of 1977, where it was discovered that a nerve was entrapped by an outgrowth of bone in the lower back. This condition*fn2 was repaired at that time. A claim petition was filed in this matter on January 9, 1976.
At the hearings held on the claim petition, Claimant and Employer each presented medical testimony.*fn3
[ 74 Pa. Commw. Page 312]
This testimony was conflicting, with Claimant's physician, Dr. Sbarbaro, testifying that Claimant's medical problems were causally related to the January 10, 1974 fall, in that the fall aggravated pre-existing back problems, while Employer's physician, Dr. Simon, testified that in his opinion Claimant's medical problems were not caused by the fall, but rather were congenital*fn4 in nature. The referee chose to believe Dr. Simon and thus held that Claimant had failed to establish that her back problems were causally related to the January 10, 1974 fall.
Claimant has preserved two issues for our review. First of all, Claimant contends that the referee erred in accepting the testimony of Employer's medical expert since that witness only testified as to whether the fall caused her disability, not as to whether the fall could have aggravated the pre-existing condition. Secondly, Claimant contends that the referee, in finding of fact number 10,*fn5 erred in finding that Claimant's physician's diagnosis was made based upon several erroneous assumptions.
Where the party with the burden of proof, here the Claimant, has failed to carry that burden, our scope of review is limited to determining whether the findings of fact are consistent with each other and ...