Threat During Surgery Nets Workers’ Comp

     (CN) – A physician’s assistant who was threatened by a surgeon during an operation can claim workers’ compensation benefits, a New York appellate court ruled.
     Caterina Lucke was working for Ellis Hospital when a surgeon threatened physical violence against her during an operation that lasted for hours.
     Lucke’s boss removed her from work until the doctor could undergo psychiatric counseling.
     Lucke also sought psychiatric treatment, and she filed a claim for workers’ compensation for posttraumatic stress and adjustment disorder.
     The Workers’ Compensation Board ruled in Lucke’s favor.
     Ellis Hospital and its workers’ compensation carrier appealed, but the Albany-based Third Department New York Appellate Division upheld the ruling in a decision written by Justice Leslie E. Stein.
     “Here, the employer argues that the surgeon’s verbal threat could not give rise to a compensable stress claim, noting mitigating factors such as the presence of others in the operating room and claimant’s familiarity with the surgeon’s ‘difficult’ personality,” she wrote.
     However, Stein noted that the workers’ compensation board had found that the incident was more serious than in other work environments and led to Lucke’s stress disorder.
     “Inasmuch as such determination is supported by substantial evidence and this court cannot reject the Board’s choice simply because a contrary determination would have been reasonable, it must be upheld,” Stein added.

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