Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, in case of Sandra M. Miller v. Pocono Hospital, No. A-91693.
Michael J. McDonald, Thomas J. Foley, Jr. and Associates, P.C., for petitioner.
Gregory D. Geiss, for respondent, Pocono Hospital.
Judges Barry and Smith, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Narick.
[ 114 Pa. Commw. Page 406]
This is an appeal by Sandra M. Miller (Claimant) from a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming a referee's decision which denied Claimant disability benefits. We affirm.
A summary of the pertinent history of this case is as follows. On August 21, 1981, Claimant filed a claim petition alleging that she suffered a work-related injury on November 19, 1980 while in the course of her employment as a nurse's aide for Pocono Hospital (Employer). According to Claimant, this work injury has resulted in total disability due to both medical and psychiatric injuries.
However, the record discloses Claimant has a history of back problems. Claimant first injured her back in 1970 while working as a nurse's aide, and it was determined that she suffered a herniated disc at the L5-S1 level. In January 1971, Claimant underwent a laminectomy. Claimant thereafter returned to work. In 1978 Claimant again injured her back and a myelogram revealed a disc herniation at the L4-L5 levels. A second laminectomy was performed. Claimant again returned to work. In September 1980 a decompressive laminectomy and rhizotomy was performed. On November 1, 1980 Claimant returned to her employment and worked until her alleged re-injury on November 19, 1980. In December 1980 another rhizotomy was performed
[ 114 Pa. Commw. Page 407]
on Claimant's back. In June 1981 another operation was performed on Claimant's back, and in April 1982, yet another operation was performed. In January 1983, a dorsal column stimulator (a battery operated device) was implanted in Claimant in order to reduce pain.
At the hearing before the referee, Claimant presented the deposition testimonies of her treating physician, Dr. Reuben Hoppenstein, a neurosurgeon, and Dr. Roger Brunswick, a psychiatric and neurology expert. Employer presented the testimony of Dr. Hugo Verbruggen, an orthopedic surgeon, and Dr. Charles Umlauf, a psychiatric and neurology expert.
The referee made the following findings of fact which are contested herein by Claimant:
7. The Defendant had the Claimant examined by Charles Umlauf, M.D., another Board certified specialist in psychiatry and neurology. Dr. Umlauf had the benefit of the medical records and Dr. Brunswick's deposition. He noted that the Claimant's back problems began in 1971 and that she had gone through various surgical procedures from then until November 1980 when she last worked. Dr. Umlauf agreed with Dr. Brunswick that the Claimant had a pre-existing psychiatric disorder, however, he felt the incident of November ...