Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 2692 15
30/12/2015
R. McCutcheon
  • Investigation by Tribunal (whether required)
  • Sarcoidosis

The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying entitlement for sarcoidosis.

The worker related the condition to various workplace exposures. The Vice-Chair noted that sarcoidosis is a multisystem granulomatous disorder of unknown etiology. The Vice-Chair accepted that the worker was exposed to fumes and dust, but the medical evidence did not establish a causal connection between the exposure and the development of his sarcoidosis. Further, this was consistent with Tribunal case law.
At the hearing, the worker requested that the Tribunal consider obtaining a further medical opinion. The Vice-Chair noted that the decision whether to obtain a report from a Tribunal medical assessor is at the discretion of the vice-chair or panel. The Vice-Chair also noted the considerable expenditure of the Tribunal's limited resources that is involved in obtaining an opinion from an independent health professional. Therefore, in determining whether it is advisable to seek an opinion, the factors to be considered should include: novelty of the issue; the extent to which the condition is novel or controversial; whether there are divergent medical opinions on the record; whether the diagnosis is unclear; the quantity and quality of opinions on file; the likelihood of the assessor being in a better position that health professionals who have already provided opinions; and MLO has reviewed the file and recommended an assessment.
In this case, sarcoidosis is not novel or controversial in Tribunal jurisprudence, the opinions on file were either unsupportive or silent, there was no divergent opinion on diagnosis, existing opinions were of good quality, and MLO had reviewed the file and had not recommended additional investigation. The Vice-Chair concluded that the circumstances of the case did not support undertaking further investigation.
The appeal was dismissed.