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MO Comp Update – Commission upholds questionable future medical award but calls for legislative changes

Quick MO Workers Compensation Legal Update

The Missouri Industrial Commission handed down a decision on December 20 in Cynthia Null v. Albany Medical Center  (click HERE to read the entire decision)  In this unanimous decision from the Industrial Commission, an award of future psychiatric medical care for the life of the employee was upheld by the Commission even though the employee’s current psychiatric complaints were virtually the same as her pre-existing psychiatric complaints.

Even the EMPLOYER representative on the Commission, Reid Forrester, agreed to uphold the award from the ALJ. However, in his concurring opinion, Commission Forrester voices what I have been asserting for years – – the workers compensation statute must be amended to apply the “prevailing factor” standard to medical care just as it is applied to compensability. Commission Forrester states:

“Regrettably, § 287.140 of the Act, which specifically addresses an employer’s obligation to provide future medical treatment, does not specifically incorporate the “prevailing factor” medical causation standard required to prove a compensable injury set out in§ 287.020.3(1). The precedent of Tillotson v. St. Joseph Medical Center, 247 S.W. 3d 511 (Mo. App. 2011) also muddies the water with respect to what constitutes future medical treatment reasonably necessary pursuant to § 287 .140 “to cure and relieve from the effects of the injury.” “ ( emphasis added)

I don’t fault the Commissioners on this decision…the problem lies solely with the current wording of the Missouri Workers Compensation Act. This is a problem that the Missouri Legislature should have addressed a long time ago.

I will be working with the Missouri Legislature starting in January to make changes that will hopefully reverse this trend in Missouri – awarding expensive medical care for the lifetime of the injured worker for medical care that does NOT meet the “prevailing factor” standard for compensability.

If you have any questions about how this might apply to any specific situations, please let me know.