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Wise v. Village Inn

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

June 17, 2015

FRANCIS WISE, APPELLANT
v.
VILLAGE INN and FARMERS INSURANCE COMPANIES, APPELLEES

APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION. No. F910654.

Walker, Shock & Harp, PLLC, by: Eddie H. Walker, Jr., for appellant.

Gill Ragon Owen, P.A., by: Jason A. Lee, for appellee.

LARRY D. VAUGHT, Judge. HARRISON and GRUBER, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 187

LARRY D. VAUGHT, Judge

Appellant Francis Wise appeals the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission's (Commission) finding that she failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that she is entitled to additional pain-management treatment. We reverse and remand.

Wise was employed by appellee Village Inn[1] on July 31, 2009, when she suffered an admittedly compensable injury to her back. Dr. Arthur Johnson performed surgery on Wise on January 20, 2010. The parties stipulated that on February 24, 2011, Wise reached maximum medical improvement and was entitled to a thirteen-percent impairment rating. Wise was also awarded a fifty-percent wage-loss-disability benefit by the Commission on February 17, 2012.

Because Wise continued to suffer from back pain, she was seen (at appellees' expense) by a pain-management physician, Dr. Amir Qureshi, on March 10, 2011. On May 30, 2012, Dr. Qureshi reported that Wise claimed to have run out of narcotic pain medication a month prior despite having been given a prescription for narcotics that month. Dr. Qureshi also noted that Wise's urine drug screen tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine, that she refused to sign for the drug-screen-confirmation test, and that she had confided in him that she had a history of methamphetamine use. Based on these findings, Dr. Qureshi concluded that Wise violated a narcotic-pain contract, and he released her from treatment.

On September 12, 2013, Wise sought and paid for medical treatment from Dr. Ahmer Hussain, a family practitioner. On that date, Dr. Hussain reported that Wise

Page 188

had a 2009 work-related back injury that required surgery and that she was interested in pain management. Dr. Hussain prescribed hydrocodone and methocarbamol for Wise, advised her that he did not treat chronic pain-management patients, and referred her to a pain-management clinic at Sparks Regional Medical Center. She testified that the medications prescribed by Dr. Hussain helped but did not fully relieve her pain. When Wise sought benefits for additional pain-management treatment, appellees controverted her claim.

At the April 22, 2014 hearing before the administrative law judge (ALJ), Wise testified that she had never been pain free following her surgery. She said that she refused to sign for the drug-screen-confirmation test because she did not have the funds to pay for it. Wise, who had been imprisoned for methamphetamine-related charges from 2003 to 2007, exercised her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent when she was questioned about whether she had consumed methamphetamine before the positive urine drug screen. Finally, she testified that her condition worsened between her last visit with Dr. Qureshi in May 2012 and her visit with Dr. Hussain in September 2013.

On June 23, 2014, the ALJ issued an opinion finding that additional pain-management treatment was reasonable and necessary for the treatment of Wise's compensable injury. The ALJ found that Wise was never free from pain following surgery for her compensable injury; she was receiving pain-management treatment with Dr. Qureshi until the positive urine screen; Wise could not pay for the ...


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