Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Robert A. Bonner v. Divine Providence Hospital, No. A-81772.
John M. Humphrey, Murphy, Mussina, Harris, Travis, Rieders & Humphrey, for petitioners.
John R. Bonner, Casale & Bonner, P.C., for respondent, Robert A. Bonner.
Robert A. Seiferth, Liebert, Short, Fitzpatrick & Lavin, for intervenor, Pennsylvania Manufacturer's Association Insurance Company.
Judges Rogers, Blatt and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 566]
The appellee who was the claimant in this workmen's compensation case was employed by a hospital as an emergency room physician, working ten or fourteen hour shifts every two days. The duties of his employment required him to stand or walk much of his working time. He suffered from a condition called Charcot's foot, a disease of the nerves of the lower extremities which causes the deterioration of the bones of the feet, the arches to collapse, the feet to flatten, and other deformity. The appellee also suffered from an arterial insufficiency in the lower limbs. These conditions were not caused by his employment.
The appellee's claim for workmen's compensation benefits was based on his and his treating physicians' opinions, duly placed in the record: that the long periods of standing and walking in shoes or slippers, which could not be made comfortable, aggravated the claimant's pre-existing conditions of Charcot's foot and arterial insufficiency and caused an ulcer to develop on the right foot in about July 1979; that the ulcerous condition worsened and the pain in the right foot increased to the point that the appellant was required to be hospitalized August 27, 1979, and after
[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 567]
the failure of treatment, his right foot was required to be, and was, amputated in January, 1980; that the ulcerous and painful condition of the right foot rendered the appellee totally disabled as of August 27, 1979, and thereafter. The referee found the facts as to the history of the appellee's work experience and of his illness to be as we have related them; that there was no specific incident which lead to the eventual amputation of the right foot; that each day's work during which pressure was exerted upon the diseased foot, was an injury; and that the date of injury was the last day the appellee was able to work, August 27, 1979. The referee thereupon concluded that the appellee's disability was work-related and compensable and that compensation was payable by the appellant, United States Fidelity and Guaranty Insurance Company (USF&G) which was the hospital's insurance carrier on August 27, 1979, the date of injury. The Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board affirmed the substance of the referee's award and this appeal by USF&G followed.
The appellant, USF&G, became the hospital's workmen's compensation insurance carrier on August 16, 1979; another company had the coverage before that date. It presents two questions: first, that the record does not support the referee's finding that the appellee's injury occurred on August 27, 1979, and that the referee should have found that the injury occurred sometime in July 1979 when the ulcer was discovered; and second, that the claimant should not have been awarded compensation for any period after November 19, 1980 because on that date his doctor testified that appellee would then be able to return to work if his left foot were not also affected by Charcot's foot and arterial insufficiency. We believe that neither question has merit.
[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 568]
As to the USF&G's question asserting error in the referee's finding that the date of injury was August 27, 1979, instead of some earlier date when another carrier had the coverage, the issue would seem to be that of whether there is substantial evidence supporting the referee's finding. The referee explained the finding as grounded on the fact first, that the appellee's pre-existing conditions of Charcot's foot and arterial insufficiency were growing worse; second, that there was no event such as a fall to mark the time of injury; third, that at some time there was an ulcer but that no specific date of its appearance could be given by the doctors; ...