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THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (GIORDANO) (05/26/88)

decided: May 26, 1988.

THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL, PETITIONER
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (GIORDANO), RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, in the case of Theo Giordano v. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, No. A-91050.

COUNSEL

Colin M. Vroome, Post & Schell, P.C., for petitioner.

Julian C. Wessell, III, for respondent, Theo Giordano.

Judges Craig and Barry, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.

Author: Barry

[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 393]

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (the employer) petitions for our review of an order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) which affirmed a referee's grant of total disability benefits to Theo Giordano (claimant). We affirm.

The claimant was employed as a registered nurse by the employer. She suffered from a pre-existing back condition known as spondylolisthesis, grade III, which caused her extensive pain in her lower back. Despite this congenital back condition the claimant both trained and worked as a registered nurse at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital; in 1975 she underwent a spinal fusion in order to stabilize her vertebrae.

In November of 1980 the claimant felt severe pain in her left side and along her left buttock and leg after she lifted a thirty-eight pound infant while working in the employer's intensive care nursery. Prior to this incident, the claimant had never experienced pain in her left

[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 394]

    buttock or leg. The referee found that this incident amounted to an aggravation of her pre-existing condition.

On June 25, 1981 the claimant felt extreme sharp pain in her lower back and left leg after she lifted a seventy-five pound metal incubator to replace its wheel. She was using the incubator to transport an infant from the nursery for diagnostic testing. The referee found that this incident amounted to a re-aggravation of the claimant's pre-existing spondylolisthesis.

The referee made the following pertinent findings of fact with respect to the events which followed the June 25, 1981 incident:

8. As a result of the June 25, 1981 injury, claimant suffered severe low back and left leg pain and was unable to perform her nursing duties.

9. As a result of the pain in claimant's lower back, and left leg, and her consequent inability to perform full-time nursing duties, she asked defendant for part-time duties, but she was refused and told no part-time positions were available, and she therefore was told to leave her position by defendant.

10. By September, 1982, claimant's low back pain increased to the point that she became extremely restricted in physical activities and could not get out of bed without pain and had difficulty sleeping. She sought repeated medical treatments from various physicians in an attempt to relieve her excruciating pain.

In an attempt to relieve this back pain, claimant had a foramenotomoy [sic] performed on October 15, 1982, but the surgery was only partially successful in eliminating the pain.

[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 39511]

. As a result of the June 25, 1981 reaggravation of the pre-existing spondylolisthesis, claimant is extremely limited in her physical activities and cannot do any bending or lifting, or walk up or down steps, or more than one block without causing herself extreme low back pain. She must also use a back brace.

The referee concluded that due to the June 25, 1981 incident which he labeled a re-aggravation of a pre-existing condition, the claimant is totally disabled from any type of employment. In reaching this conclusion the referee specifically found the testimony of the claimant and John L. ...


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