BAXTER REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER AND RISK MANAGEMENT RESOURCES APPELLANTS
LAQUITA FERRIS APPELLEE
FROM THE ARKANSAS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION [NO.
A. Murray Law Firm, P.A., by: Walter Murray, for appellants.
Frederick S. "Rick" Spencer, for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, JUDGE
Regional Medical Center (BRMC) appeals from a decision of the
Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission ("the
Commission") finding that appellee Laquita Ferris proved
her entitlement to additional medical treatment for her
compensable injury to her left knee. BRMC argues that the
Commission's decision is not supported by substantial
evidence. We affirm.
Factual and Procedural Background
was employed by BRMC as a certified nursing assistant (CNA)
and had worked there for eleven years before her injury.
Although she previously had problems with her left knee,
including five surgeries, she had not experienced any major
problems with it, other than occasional swelling, since 2008.
In February 2015, Ferris was assisting a patient when she
tripped over an IV cord and felt her knee "pop."
She was later diagnosed as having dislocated her patella.
accepted her initial injury as compensable and paid for her
medical care while she sought treatment for her knee. Ferris
underwent a patellofemoral ligament reconstruction surgery in
May 2015, which did not provide her with much relief. She
obtained a change of physician and began seeing Dr.
Christopher Arnold in October 2015. Dr. Arnold provided
Ferris medical treatments that ranged from cortisone shots
and arthroscopic lysis of adhesions to viscosupplementation.
When the various treatments and procedures failed to provide
her with relief, Dr. Arnold recommended that Ferris undergo
an osteoarticular autograft-patella (OATS) procedure in
conjunction with a tibial tubercle osteotomy. BRMC refused to
approve this procedure, which resulted in Ferris's
obtaining an independent medical examination (IME) from Dr.
Charles Pearce. After a brief examination, Dr. Pearce
concluded that the OATS procedure would not be
"reasonable or helpful" for Ferris and concluded
that such treatment "would not be because of her
Workers' Compensation injury."
administrative law judge (ALJ) held a hearing on Ferris's
claim. The ALJ considered the competing medical opinions from
Drs. Arnold and Pearce. The ALJ found the medical opinion of
Dr. Arnold, who was Ferris's treating physician, more
credible than that of Dr. Pearce. The ALJ also considered
testimony from Cheryl Edwards, Ferris's charge nurse when
she worked at BRMC, and from Ferris. The ALJ concluded that
Ferris and Edwards had "credibly testified" that
Ferris had not been having problems with her knee before the
February 2015 incident. Finally, the ALJ found that the fact
that Ferris had some preexisting problems with her left knee
was not problematic because the 2015 injury constituted an
aggravation of a preexisting injury. The ALJ concluded as
The evidence at bar establishes that the tripping over the IV
cord on February 1, 2015 aggravated Claimant's
preexisting left knee condition. The evidence shows that the
surgery proposed by Dr. Arnold is causally related to her
compensable injury. Consequently, Claimant has proven her
entitlement to this treatment at Respondents' expense by
a preponderance of the evidence.
[Citation omitted.] BRMC appealed to the full Commission,
which in a 2-1 decision adopted and affirmed the ALJ's
opinion. BRMC timely appealed the Commission's decision,
and it now argues that the Commission's decision is not
supported by substantial evidence.
Standard of Review
court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the
Commission's decision and affirms the decision if it is
supported by substantial evidence. Pratt v. Rheem
Mfg., 2013 Ark.App. 577. Substantial evidence exists if
reasonable minds could reach the Commission's conclusion.
Id. Normally, we review only the decision of the
Commission, not that of the ALJ. Queen v. Nortel
Networks, Inc., 2012 Ark.App. 188, at 3. When, however,
as here, the Commission affirms and adopts the ALJ's
opinion, thereby making the findings and conclusions of the
ALJ the Commission's findings ...