How important is accuracy and protection of medical records - denial of benefits could occur and this case went all the way to court. BD
LITTLE ROCK - A decision by the state Workers' Compensation Commission to deny disability benefits to a Pine Bluff woman was based on a review of the wrong patient's medical record, the state Court of Appeals found Wednesday.
The appeals court reversed the commission's decision in the case of Diana Vaughan, who reported pain in her neck, right shoulder and right arm following her shift at a Pine Bluff bakery on Sept. 17, 1997.
Vaughan returned to work the next day but had to leave because of increased pain, according to court records.
In a unanimous decision, the commission ruled that Vaughan was not entitled to temporary total disability compensation later than June 15, 2005, because her healing period had ended by that date.
In its decision reversing the ruling, the state Court of Appeals said the commission's decision "quoted in full and then relied on" a medical record that was not Vaughan's.
The court noted that in a letter accompanying the medical record, Vaughan's attorney advises the defendants' attorney that he is enclosing information about a different client who also was treated by the same doctor.
The Workers' Compensation Commission mistakenly relied on that record - which states that the patient's healing period ended June 15, 2005 - as if it were Vaughan's, the Court of Appeals found.
"The commission's erroneous factual findings require our reversal of its decision, and we remand this case to the commission for its full examination of the relevant evidence presented," Judge Josephine Linker Hart wrote.