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Arkansas Health Center and Arkansas Insurance Department v. Burnett

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

September 19, 2018

ARKANSAS HEALTH CENTER AND ARKANSAS INSURANCE DEPARTMENT, PUBLIC EMPLOYEE CLAIMS DIVISION APPELLANTS
v.
STEPHANIE BURNETT APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NOS. G602830 & G608244]

          Charles H. McLemore Jr., Arkansas Insurance Dep't, Public Employees Claims Division, for appellant.

          Jensen Young & Houston, PLLC, by: Terence C. Jensen, for appellee.

          KENNETH S. HIXSON, JUDGE

         Appellants, Arkansas Health Center (AHC) and Arkansas Insurance Department, Public Employee Claims Division (PECD), appeal from a November 22, 2017 opinion by the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission). The Commission granted additional medical treatment to appellee Stephanie Burnett-specifically, the surgery recommended by Dr. James R. Adametz and additional temporary total-disability (TTD) benefits from February 23, 2017, until a date yet to be determined. On appeal, appellants contend that substantial evidence does not support the Commission's decision. We affirm.

         Appellee worked as a certified nursing assistant for AHC before her injuries. The parties stipulated that she sustained a compensable back injury on April 11, 2016. Appellee claimed that she injured her back while she was showering a patient. She was treated at Saline Memorial Hospital and discharged with "THORACIC STRAIN." After returning to work, appellee sustained a stipulated compensable neck injury on April 15, 2016. Appellee claimed that the right side of her neck popped and that her right side went numb when she was assisting a resident out of bed into her wheelchair. She was treated at Saline Memorial Hospital and discharged with "THORACIC STRAIN, THORACIC MUSCLE SPASM."

         Appellee was subsequently treated conservatively by Dr. Bruce W. Randolph at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. An MRI of appellee's lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine was taken in May 2016. That MRI revealed the following relevant impressions according to the radiologist:

1. Minimal degenerative changes in the lower cervical spine at C6-7. There is no canal stenosis of neural foraminal narrowing.
2. Minimal degenerative changes in the lower lumbar spine. There is no canal stenosis or neural foraminal narrowing.
3. The cord appears normal in size and signal.

         Dr. Randolph noted that he considered those findings to be within normal limits and that he was releasing her from his care to resume her regular duties.

         Appellee formally changed physicians and began receiving treatment from Dr. Adametz on June 21, 2016. Dr. Adametz examined appellee and reviewed her May 2016 MRI. Regarding the MRI, Dr. Adametz noted that

[t]he cervical spine shows sort of a central disc herniation at C6-7, it is not causing any real cord compression or anything, but is not normal. There is a questionable abnormality at C5-6 in the foramen, but I could not see it on all the views. The rest of the neck looks okay. The thoracic spine did not show anything significant. The lumbar spine showed multiple small bulging discs, but not anything major that looked surgical or anything.

         He recommended conservative treatment at that time. Appellee received physical therapy, epidural ...


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