Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 1250 20
29/04/2021
M. Keil
  • Consequences of injury (iatrogenic illness) (medication)
  • Drug addiction

On August 19, 2003, the worker had a work accident while cutting a piece of wood with a table saw when his left hand came into contact with the saw. This resulted in a traumatic amputation to multiple digits, a laceration to the tip of his pinky finger and left thumb damage which required extensive replantation and revascularization surgery of the left thumb, index and long fingers.

He was granted a 26% Non-Economic Loss ("NEL") award for the left hand injuries, as well as entitlement for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD") and a Major Depressive Disorder. The worker was prescribed oxycocet for the pain, to which he became addicted and started buying his drugs off the street.
In this appeal the worker was seeking entitlement for opioid dependency as result of his compensable injuries.
The Vice-Chair found on a balance of probabilities, that the compensable accident of August 19, 2003, made a significant contribution to the worker's opioid dependency. In reaching that conclusion, she noted that, while the Board related the worker's opioid dependency to drug use that began prior to the compensable accident, no evidence of significance was cited in support of that conclusion. Conversely, the medical evidence on file was consistent in documenting that the worker's use of opioids began after the compensable accident as the worker attempted to deal with his ongoing left hand pain and PTSD both conditions which were recognized as compensable.
The appeal was allowed.