Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 47 12
14/03/2014
M. Keil - B. Wheeler - K. Hoskin
  • Infection (MRSA)

The worker worked at a men's shelter. He developed methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and was identified with two problems: MRSA pneumonia and MRSA empyema. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement for the MRSA.

MRSA has been commonly identified as a pathogen in Canada for 20 years. Around 10 years ago, a community strain of MRSA with more virulence than the hospital strain was seen. This was often associated with homeless shelters and among injection drug users. Most people with MRSA are colonized but not infected.
The worker's greatest risk of exposure was at the shelter. This is where he worked on a regular basis, spent a large number of his waking hours, where the same elements would be present on a consistent basis and where the prevalence would be highest. The Panel concluded that the workplace was, more likely than not, the source of the worker's exposure to MRSA. As to whether that exposure led to the development of MRSA pneumonia and MRSA empyema, the evidence was approximately equal in weight. The benefit of doubt was applied in favour of the worker. Accordingly, the worker had entitlement to benefits for the period of time he was recovering from the MRSA pneumonia and MRSA empyema.
The appeal was allowed.