An employee who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after his hand became stuck in a machine has won workers’ comp benefits for a hospital stay ordered by his psychiatrist.
The mix of meds the claimant was taking apparently prompted him to seek medical help for “homicidal ideation” about “the company attorney.”
The deputy commissioner denied benefits, saying Kent Allen Derrow’s 2007 hospitalization was prompted by financial stress from a suspension of Derrow’s wage loss benefits, not his 2003 industrial accident. In a split decision, the full commission reversed and ordered payment for the hospital stay.
In 2003, Derrow’s hand became trapped in a machine that malfunctioned. It was his second mishap with the machine. When his hand became stuck the first time, Derrow only needed 10 sutures. The second time, however, the machine cut through nerves and tendons, and Derrow could not remove his arm. He was alone and called for help for 30 minutes before going into shock. In addition to his physical injuries, he was diagnosed with PTSD and began treating with Dr. Michael Hoffman, a psychiatrist.
A field manager for the employer’s insurance carrier testified about a meeting with Derrow and Dr. Hoffman, in which the psychiatrist told her he had been dealing with people like her for 20 years and he was sick of it. The manager reported Hoffman complained the carrier should have done its job four years earlier and approved a treatment plan for Derrow, and because it hadn’t, “it was going to cost them now.” He recommended Derrow go to the hospital emergency room, as he had been experiencing homicidal and suicidal ideation.
Derrow reported having had a gun in his hand in the past week, and told medical personnel he had “extensive homicidal ideation” toward the “company attorney” involved in his litigation. Derrow indicated such feelings were very uncharacteristic for him and he sought his psychiatrist’s help.
Treating doctors at the hospital said Derrow was suffering a possible mood destabilization due to his medications, and Derrow improved after doctors adjusted his multiple medications. The full commission said multiple factors, not just an “inappropriate suspension” of wage loss benefits, led to the hospitalization.
Changing Derrow’s medications quickly led to improvements, notwithstanding his continued financial problems, according to the commission’s Sept. 27 opinion in Derrow v. Tyco Electronics.
By Deborah Elkins