GW Hospital nurse appeals CRB decisions denying her medical treatment

A GW Hospital nurse is appealing two Compensation Review Board decisions that denied her treatment for an injury she sustained after slipping and falling on the job.

In a one-page appeal filed late last month, operating room nurse Sara Gould asked the Department of Employment Services to reverse the board’s decision denying her a neurological consultation for a neck injury Gould said she experienced after falling at the hospital. Gould claimed the CRB’s reason to refuse her treatment is not supported by workers compensation law, a set of rules that cover payment for employees injured while working.

“Ms. Gould seeks a reversal of the decisions of the Compensation Review Board as the factual findings do not flow rationally from the substantial evidence of the D.C. Workers’ Compensation Act and the precedents of this honorable court,” the appeal states.

The DOES did not return a request for comment.

Gould was working in an operating room in July 2017 when she slipped and fell while moving a patient to a different bed, according to two appeals filed to the CRB in November and March. The nurse “twisted” her body and hit her right knee on the operating room bed in an attempt to catch herself, according to the appeals.

After the fall, doctors treated her at the GW Hospital for pain in her left groin, right upper back and right knee, the appeals state. Gould later received a magnetic resonance imaging scan, which revealed a muscle tear in her left hip and “degenerative changes” to her right knee, according to the March appeal.

Gould switched to receive treatment from a doctor at Holy Cross Hospital who recommended her a neurological and pain management consultation. The GW Hospital denied her both consultations, the March appeal states.

She returned to work at GW Hospital in April 2018 after an independent medical evaluation found that she did not need further treatment, according to the March appeal.

At a hearing in June 2018, Gould requested to the CRB “an award of temporary total disability,” which would have given her paid time off from July 2017 to April 2018 for her injuries.

The CRB issued a compensation order in August 2018 mandating that the GW Hospital pay Gould for her time off while she was treated for her injuries. The order states that her injuries were “medically casually related” to her fall at the GW Hospital in July 2017, and that she was entitled to “reasonable and necessary medical symptoms” regarding her neck and shoulder pain and to a neurosurgeon for consultation.

The GW Hospital filed an appeal arguing that “substantial evidence” existed to indicate that Gould’s neck condition was not caused by the operating room fall.

Gould’s lawyers did not return requests for comment.

In the November 2018 appeal, the CRB found that Gould’s shoulder injury was caused by the operating room incident, but not the neck pain. The CRB also reviewed the case and concluded that further discussion was needed for Gould’s request to see a neurosurgeon.

Gould appealed the CRB’s decision in early February, claiming its denial of approval for a neurological consultation is “not supported by substantial evidence.” But the GW Hospital opposed her appeal, saying there is insufficient evidence that a neurological consultation was necessary.

The judge overseeing the case agreed with GW Hospital’s argument, saying referral to a neurosurgeon was not “reasonable or necessary,” according to the March appeal.

GW Hospital spokeswoman Susan Griffiths did not return a request for comment.

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