Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 960 16
S. Netten
  • Aggravation (preexisting condition) (asthma)
  • Medical report (varying diagnoses)
  • Permanent impairment {NEL}
  • Reactive airways dysfunction syndrome
  • Evidence (weight) (medical report)

The Board granted the worker entitlement for aggravation of pre-existing asthma in 2006. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying a NEL award for permanent aggravation.

From 1998 to 2002, there were various medical reports with references to asthma. There was no indication of assessments from 2002 to 2006. After workplace exposure in 2006, the worker was seen by numerous respirologists, with varying diagnoses including primary COPD, asthma and reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS).
The Board medical assessor examined the worker and was of the opinion that the worker's condition was primary COPD. However, she made her diagnosis in the absence of detailed reports from four specialists substantiating pre-existing asthma without emphysema. Further, she did not reach a conclusion on work-relatedness and did not specifically comment on temporary or permanent aggravation of the pre-existing condition.
Another specialist found that the worker had asthma but did not compare pre-accident and post-accident exposure periods.
The Vice-Chair preferred the opinion of a Tribunal medical assessor, who had the benefit of the full picture over time and who specifically addressed the role of the workplace exposure. This report was detailed, thorough and reflective of the evidence on file. The Vice-Chair accepted the Tribunal assessor's diagnosis of RADS and found that the RADS permanently aggravated the worker's pre-existing impairment by worsening her lung function through the imposition of RADS on the pre-existing asthma.
The worker was entitled to a NEL assessment for the permanent aggravation. The appeal was allowed.