Appeal No. 2051826 (Claim No. 2015019977)
Lesli Gordon-Buttermore, by Christopher Wallace, her
attorney, appeals the decision of the West Virginia
Workers' Compensation Board of Review. Monongalia Health
System, Inc., by Steven Wellman, its attorney, filed a timely
issue on appeal is the payment of temporary total disability
and medical treatment. On August 14, 2015, the claims
administrator closed the claim for temporary total disability
benefits. On December 7, 2015, the claims administrator
denied authorization for a repeat electromyography. The
Office of Judges affirmed the August 14, 2015, closure of
temporary total disability benefits and reversed the claims
administrator's December 7, 2015, denial of authorization
for a repeat electromyography in its February 15, 2017,
Order. The Order was affirmed by the Board of Review on
November 22, 2017. The Court has carefully reviewed the
records, written arguments, and appendices contained in the
briefs, and the case is mature for consideration.
Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record
on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately
presented, and the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of
the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented,
the Court finds no substantial question of law and no
prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision
is appropriate under Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate
Gordon-Buttermore, a nurse, was injured on December 19, 2014,
when a patient grabbed, squeezed, and twisted her left hand
while she was trying to put a cervical collar on him. Ms.
Gordon-Buttermore was treated at Ruby Memorial Hospital where
she was diagnosed with a left wrist and forearm strain. On
December 27, 2014, she was treated at MedExpress where she
was diagnosed with a left wrist sprain and possible
underlying carpal tunnel syndrome. The claims administrator
held the claim compensable for a left wrist sprain on
February 2, 2015.
and nerve conduction studies performed on March 17, 2015,
showed no evidence of cervical radiculopathy, generalized
neuropathy, or myopathy. The study was normal. Ms.
Gordon-Buttermore had a left wrist MRI on April 29, 2015,
which was suspicious for a capsular tear or incomplete tear
of the ulnar collateral ligament and a degenerative signal
within the ulnar triangular fibrocartilage complex with no
Thrush, M.D., performed an independent medical evaluation on
May 7, 2015. He noted the accepted diagnosis was a wrist
sprain and the most recent MRI showed a possible capsular
tear of the radiocarpal joint or an incomplete tear of the
ulnar collateral ligament. In his opinion, the wrist sprain
was due to the work injury. Dr. Thrush recommended a referral
to Jaiyoung Ryu, M.D.
Micucci, M.D., treated Ms. Gordon-Buttermore on May 8, 2015,
and diagnosed triangular fibrocartilage complex and
associated ligament tears. Dr. Micucci recommended sending
her to Patrick McCulloch, M.D., a hand specialist, as he was
not sure the diagnosis and MRI fit Ms.
Gordon-Buttermore's complaints on examination.
14, 2015, the claims administrator suspended the claim for
temporary total disability benefits as Dr. Thrush opined that
Ms. Gordon-Buttermore was capable of working in a
light/modified duty capacity which Monongalia Health System,
Inc., was able to accommodate. On August 14, 2015, the claims
administrator closed the claim for temporary total disability
benefits as sufficient medical evidence showing Ms.
Gordon-Buttermore remained disabled had not been received.
Gordon-Buttermore was seen for a consultation by William
Dahl, M.D., on August 26, 2015. Ms. Gordon-Buttermore
complained of pain along the radial aspect of the base of her
thumb, as well as numbness and tingling in the ring and small
fingers of the left hand. Dr. Dahl noted the MRI arthrogram
showed minimal degenerative changes within the triangular
fibrocartilage complex, but no pathology to account for Ms.
Gordon-Buttermore's symptoms. Dr. Dahl diagnosed left
wrist deQuervain's tenosynovitis, left ulnar neuropathy,
and left wrist pain. He recommended a new electromyography of
the left upper extremity due to Ms. Gordon-Buttermore's
worsening symptoms of numbness and tingling. He also
recommended a brace for the left hand and occupational
October 2, 2015, Sushil Sethi, M.D., performed an independent
medical evaluation. He noted that Ms. Gordon-Buttermore had
received more than nine months of active intervention as well
as electromyography and nerve conduction studies that were
normal. The MRI arthrogram showed degenerative findings only,
no traumatic findings. Dr. Sethi opined that Ms.
Gordon-Buttermore had non-specific, subjective pains that
could not be verified upon examination. In his opinion, she
had reached a plateau, which was stable. He did not believe
any "fundamental, functional, or physiological"
changes could be expected in spite of ongoing treatments or
therapies. Dr. Sethi believed Ms. Gordon-Buttermore was able
to return to work with no restrictions.
patient status report dated October 6, 2015, lists diagnoses
of left deQuervain's tenosynovitis and left ulnar
neuropathy. Ms. Gordon-Buttermore's work status was
listed as light duty with restrictions limiting lifting with
the left arm to under ten pounds. The treatment plan included
bracing, occupational therapy, and a new electromyography of
the left upper extremity. On October 7, 2015, Dr. Dahl noted
that the electromyography request had been denied. Ms.
Gordon-Buttermore had not returned to work, although her work
had provided her with a job with restrictions that she did
not accept. The deQuervain's brace seemed to help. Dr.
Dahl assessed left deQuervain's tenosynovitis, left
cubital tunnel syndrome, and left wrist pain.
claims administrator denied authorization for a repeat
electromyography on December 7, 2015. On January 5, 2016,
Nicole Linger, an employee health coordinator for Monongalia
Health System, Inc., submitted an affidavit in which she
averred that a modified duty position was secured for Ms.
Gordon-Buttermore on July 10, 2015. The light duty assignment
included answering phones, data entry, and sending faxes as
needed. Ami Guidi, who coordinated return to work for injured
employees at that time, was unable to reach Ms.
Gordon-Buttermore on July 10, 2015, or July 13, 2015.
Gordon-Buttermore testified via deposition on August 15,
2016, that she worked as an emergency room nurse at
Monongalia General Hospital. She treated with Dr. Micucci who
referred her to physical therapy and ordered an
electromyography, MRI, and an MRI arthrogram. She had been
wearing a brace that immobilized her wrist and thumb. Her
temporary total disability benefits were suspended in July of
2015 after a job offer was allegedly made. When the job offer
was made, Dr. Micucci had not released her to return any type
of work. She was offered a position in the medical records
department in which she would receive telephone calls from
patients requesting copies of their medical records. This
would require computer work, including typing, answering
phones, sending faxes, and working thirty-five hours per
week. This exceeded the restrictions from Dr. Thrush in that
it was too many hours. ...