Decision #28/20 - Type: Workers Compensation
The worker is appealing the decisions made by the Workers Compensation Board ("WCB") that she is not entitled to further benefits in relation to a February 28, 2011 accident and that her claim for an accident occurring on January 16, 2017 is not acceptable. A hearing was held on January 9, 2020 to consider the worker's appeals.
Date of Accident - February 28, 2011:
Whether or not the worker is entitled to further benefits in relation to the February 28, 2011 accident;
Date of Accident - January 16, 2017:
Whether or not the claim is acceptable.
Date of Accident - February 28, 2011:
That the worker is not entitled to further benefits in relation to the February 28, 2011 accident;
Date of Accident - January 16, 2017:
That the claim is not acceptable.
Date of Accident - February 28, 2011:
On March 28, 2011, the worker filed a Worker Incident Report with the WCB indicating that she suffered a psychological injury, noted as post traumatic stress, after an incident at work on February 28, 2011. The Employer's Accident Report filed March 29, 2011 indicated that the incident was reported to the employer on March 28, 2011.
In an initial discussion with the worker on April 11, 2011, the WCB adjudicator noted the worker's report of responding to a call on February 28, 2011 involving someone she knew who passed away. The worker advised that she continued working after the incident, but was having difficulties, including flashbacks of the incident and problems sleeping and eating. She stated that on March 25, 2011 she sought medical treatment from her family physician, who made a referral for her to see a psychiatrist.
A Doctor First Report from the worker's family physician dated April 12, 2011 noted that the worker reported difficulty coping with day to day life activities after witnessing the death of a person who was well known to her, and that the worker was experiencing flashbacks, difficulty sleeping and anxiety, along with loss of interest and poor performance and concentration at work. The physician queried whether the worker had PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and referred her to a psychiatrist. The worker's claim was accepted by the WCB and payment of various benefits commenced.
In an April 27, 2011 report from the worker's treating psychiatrist, the psychiatrist noted that he had seen the worker on April 20, 2011, and provided diagnoses of "Major depressive episode - moderate - without psychotic features" and "Posttraumatic stress disorder symptomatology." The psychiatrist opined that with a combination of psychotherapy and psychopharmacology, the worker should have a good response and that a graduated return to work could be considered in approximately six weeks. On June 17, 2011, the treating psychiatrist noted that the worker described a "significant improvement," and cleared her to return to work and resume her regular duties on June 27, 2011.
On November 20, 2017, the WCB contacted the worker to discuss a new claim that had been filed for a psychological injury. The worker advised the WCB that she had continued to suffer symptoms on and off from the time she returned to work in 2011 to the present and "…that there were no specific trigger [sic] to cause the onset of her symptoms as it was sporadic."
The WCB gathered further medical information from the worker's treating healthcare providers, including clinical chart notes from December 2015 to November 2017. A Psychiatric Consultation Assessment from the worker's current treating psychiatrist dated August 10, 2017 noted the diagnosis of "PTSD with secondary dysphoria in partial remission," as well as "Panic attacks and normal grief, resolving" related to a personal issue. On November 28, 2017, the worker's treating nurse practitioner also provided a summary of her treatment of the worker, indicating a diagnosis of anxiety/depression/PTSD.
On March 29, 2018, a WCB psychological consultant reviewed the worker's file, including the August 10, 2017 report from the worker's treating psychiatrist, and noted that the psychiatrist did not list symptoms which would meet the full criteria for PTSD and did not recommend treatment for PTSD. The WCB psychological advisor opined that the diagnosis appeared to be panic attacks and normal grief, resolving.
On June 7, 2018, the worker submitted further medical information to the WCB, including an August 20, 2014 psychiatric assessment from a consultant psychiatrist and a May 23, 2018 report from the worker's current treating psychiatrist. The August 20, 2014 assessment noted that the worker presented with a "history of significant trauma…and more recently work related trauma" and that she "…would have fulfilled criteria for PTSD after the most recent incident." The consultant psychiatrist noted that "A lot of these symptoms have abated since." The consultant psychiatrist further noted that the worker had some residual anxiety and the occasional perceptual disturbance but was "…functioning fairly well in her environment." In his May 23, 2018 report, the worker's current treating psychiatrist accepted that the worker had "…not demonstrated the full criteria for a precise 'DSM diagnosis' of PTSD," but stated that she had experienced adequate recurrent traumas and developed severe enough symptoms that sending her back to work was "…likely to result in recurrence and intensification of her symptoms leading to a failed return to work at a minimum and severe depressive disorder at worst."
On July 23, 2018, a WCB psychiatric consultant reviewed the worker's file, including the new medical information provided by the worker. The WCB psychiatric consultant opined that based on the available information, including the recent psychiatric report, the worker did not meet the diagnostic criteria for any specific psychiatric diagnosis. The consultant further opined that the information on file did not support that the worker's current difficulties were related to her 2011 workplace accident. On July 24, 2018, Compensation Services advised the worker that they were unable to determine her current medical condition was directly related to her 2011 workplace incident and subsequent PTSD diagnosis, and she was not entitled to further benefits.
On August 28, 2018, the worker submitted a further report from her current treating psychiatrist dated July 23, 2018, which was reviewed by the WCB psychiatric consultant. On September 17, 2018, the WCB psychiatric consultant noted that the new medical report from the treating psychiatrist did not provide information that supported a specific psychiatric diagnosis and her previous opinion remained unchanged. On September 17, 2018, Compensation Services advised the worker that following review of the new medical report, their previous decision remained unchanged.
On October 29, 2018, the worker requested that Review Office reconsider Compensation Services' decision. In her request, the worker noted that she had not recovered from her PTSD symptoms suffered in 2010-2011, and her PTSD symptoms were aggravated after a death in her family in 2016.
On January 7, 2019, Review Office determined that there was no further entitlement to benefits as related to the February 28, 2011 compensable injury. Review Office placed weight on the WCB psychiatric consultant's opinion that the worker did not meet the diagnostic criteria for any specific psychiatric diagnosis. Review Office noted that a specific diagnosis was not required to establish that the worker would be entitled to benefits. Review Office found, however, that the evidence denoted the worker's non-compensable issues in her personal life had a greater bearing on her mental health and continued problems than the original compensable injury.
Review Office further agreed with the WCB's psychiatric consultant's opinion that the worker's occupation may have increased her risk of exposure to stressful situations, but that this risk did not relate to the issues which were the subject of her 2011 compensable injury. Given the length of time since the workplace injury, the worker's return to work, and the treatment she had received, Review Office was unable to establish a causal relationship between her current symptoms and the 2011 compensable injury.
Date of Accident - January 16, 2017:
On November 7, 2017, the worker filed a Worker Incident Report for a psychological injury. She reported that the incident which led to the injury occurred on January 16, 2017, and she reported it to her employer on April 25, 2017. In her Report, the worker noted that she had issues with PTSD in the past and had been dealing with these issues for about seven years. She stated that she had been having anxiety and panic attacks and nightmares, and was not sleeping well. She noted that "Everything really came to a head in April…" and she had been off work since then. She further noted that "There is no specific incident, it's just the buildup of the trauma I have had to deal with."
On November 20, 2017, a WCB adjudicator contacted the worker to discuss her claim. Information of past difficulties and her previous WCB claim was provided, along with information regarding her treating healthcare providers. The worker indicated she had experienced symptoms on and off after coming back to work in 2011. She advised that she was off work for approximately two months with respect to a personal issue in October 2016 and returned to work in January 2017. The worker noted that she did not mention her ongoing issues to her employer when she returned to work in January 2017, but said that her supervisor "could tell something was wrong," and after two cardiac arrest calls had occurred in one workday in April 2017, she spoke with her supervisor and was taken to a local emergency department.
On December 12, 2017, the worker's supervisor advised the WCB that due to his concern with respect to the worker's wellbeing, he took the worker voluntarily to the hospital on May 1, 2017, where she was assessed and immediately taken off work by the attending physician for mental health reasons. The hospital report was requested and received by the WCB the following day.
Further information was gathered from the worker's healthcare providers and from her 2011 claim file. On April 30, 2018, Compensation Services advised the worker that they were unable to accept responsibility for her current difficulties as being caused by an accident in the workplace. Compensation Services determined that the development of the worker's symptoms and diagnosis of panic attack and normal grief, resolving was precipitated by the personal trauma the worker experienced in October 2016 and was unrelated to her current work duties.
Compensation Services further stated that although the worker noted ongoing symptoms from 2010, there was no indication she was experiencing difficulties in relation to calls prior to April 2017. Compensation Services found that the evidence supported the worker began experiencing symptoms following the October 2016 incident and that this would not be considered to be an accident as defined in The Workers Compensation Act (the "Act").
On October 29, 2018, the worker requested that Review Office reconsider Compensation Services' decision. On December 18, 2018, the employer provided a submission in support of Compensation Services' decision, and the worker provided a response to that submission dated December 28, 2018.
On January 7, 2019, Review Office determined that the worker's claim was not acceptable. Review Office accepted that the diagnosis established by the evidence and presented on the claim was panic attacks and normal grief, resolving, and found that this did not establish a causal link to the worker's employment. Review Office found that the evidence suggested the worker's ongoing psychological issues remained related to non-compensable personal matters, and an accident could therefore not be established.
On July 16, 2019, the worker's representative appealed both January 7, 2019 Review Office decisions to the Appeal Commission and an oral hearing was arranged.
Applicable Legislation and Policy
The Appeal Commission and its panels are bound by the Act, regulations and policies of the WCB's Board of Directors.
Subsection 4(1) of the Act provides that where a worker suffers personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment, compensation shall be paid.
What constitutes an "accident" is defined in subsection 1(1) of the Act, as follows:
"accident" means a chance event occasioned by a physical or natural cause; and includes
(a) a wilful and intentional act that is not the act of the worker,
(i) event arising out of, and in the course of, employment, or
(ii) thing that is done and the doing of which arises out of, and in the course of, employment, and
(c) an occupational disease,
and as a result of which a worker is injured.
What constitutes an "occupational disease" is further defined in subsection 1(1) of the Act.
The WCB's Board of Directors has established WCB Policy 44.05.30, Adjudication of Psychological Injuries, the purpose of which is to explain the way that claims for psychological injuries will be adjudicated, and the reason that some types of psychological injuries will not give rise to a compensable claim.
The Policy provides, in part, as follows:
Non-Compensable Psychological Injuries
Psychological injuries that occur as a result of burn-out or the daily pressures or stressors of work will not give rise to a compensable claim. The daily pressures or stressors of work do not fall within any part of the definition of accident because there is no chance event, no wilful and intentional act and no traumatic event…
WCB Board Policy 44.20, Disease/General describes the meaning of the term "traumatic event" as it is used in the statutory definition of occupational disease. It states that a traumatic event "is an identifiable physical or psychological occurrence, occurs in an identifiable time frame that is normally of brief duration, is not a series of minor occurrences, and is capable of causing serious physical or psychological harm consistent with the acute reaction," and notes that these events will typically be deeply disturbing or distressing to the worker.
WCB Policy 188.8.131.52.10, Recurring Effects of Injuries and Illness (Recurrences), deals with situations where there is a recurrence of an injury that results in a loss of earning capacity. A recurrence is described as "a clinically demonstrated increase in temporary or permanent impairment which results in a current loss of earning capacity, or a relapse of an injury which has been directly related to a previous compensable condition which results in a current loss of earning capacity."
The worker was represented by a worker advisor, and was accompanied by a family member at the hearing. The worker's representative submitted further information in advance of the hearing and made an oral presentation to the panel, a written copy of which was also provided. The worker responded to questions from her representative and from the panel.
The worker's position was that:
…the file and medical evidence supports that the worker's current psychological difficulties are causally related to her employment … We submit there are equally compelling arguments to be made that the worker suffered a recurrence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from her 2011 claim, or that the worker suffered a new accident that brought back previous traumatic workplace memories causing the current psychological symptoms. Regardless, there is a definite causal link between the psychological difficulties and the workplace traumas. As such, the worker should be entitled to benefits.
The worker's representative noted that the worker's claim was accepted in March 2011 after she began suffering psychological difficulties. The representative referred to three incidents as some of the traumatic events the worker experienced in a relatively short period of time and listed various symptoms the worker described experiencing. She submitted that the worker was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder with post traumatic symptomatology, and the diagnosis was later changed to PTSD. The worker's representative submitted that the WCB confirmed the 2011 claim met the criteria for PTSD, based on the DSM-IV that was in effect at the time.
The worker's representative noted that the worker returned to work in late June 2011. It was submitted that although she had improved, the worker did not feel her PTSD symptomatology had completely resolved, as reflected in a report from the treating psychiatrist at that time.
It was noted that the worker was successful in managing her symptoms with medication and therapy until 2014, when she suffered a relapse of her symptoms. The representative submitted that the treating psychiatrist diagnosed the worker with PTSD at that time, and she was off work for a few months. After that, her symptoms improved and she again returned to work. Subsequently, following a death in her family in 2016, she required further time off work. Her symptoms having again improved, she was cleared to return to work in January 2017.
The worker's representative noted the worker worked a little more than three months when she attended a cardiac arrest call on April 16, 2017 where the patient, a family friend, passed away. She worked a few more shifts, after which her supervisor rushed her to the emergency department on May 1, 2017. It was submitted that the cardiac arrest call was reminiscent of the final event that took the worker off work for her 2011 claim. The representative noted that the worker was unable to return to work after that. She ultimately found a position outside health care, and at the time of the hearing, had been working full-time for three months without a relapse of her symptoms.
The worker's representative submitted that the current treating psychiatrist does not agree with the WCB's decision that the worker's current difficulties are not related to her work and the trauma she witnessed. The representative noted that the treating psychiatrist has outlined how the symptoms the worker experiences are related to the work traumas. The representative argued that since all of the worker's nightmares/flashbacks and triggers relate to the trauma she has witnessed in her work, it is improbable the symptoms do not causally relate to these traumas. The representative noted that the psychiatrist has stated in his reports that the worker will suffer recurrences if she returns to her position. She submitted that if the workplace traumas were unrelated to the worker's psychological difficulties, the treating psychiatrist would not place restrictions to avoid victims of traumatic injuries and events, or recommend that the worker find another line of work.
It was submitted that while all of the past incidents had an effect on the worker, the evidence shows she was able to work until the series of event that led to the 2011 PTSD claim. The representative submitted that the current flashbacks, nightmares and triggers do not relate to the death in her family or other personal matters, and the fact that what she re-experiences is related to the workplace trauma shows the necessary causal relationship to her work duties. The representative submitted that none of the treating psychiatrists attribute her PTSD symptomatology to non-work events.
The worker's representative acknowledged that the personal events and trauma would have an impact on the worker, that they would create an environment which would leave the worker vulnerable to the impact of further trauma and increase her reaction and the depth of her workplace injury.
In conclusion, the worker advisor submitted that the worker was diagnosed with a psychological injury due to witnessing workplace traumas where she watched the victims die violently, and feels she has not moved past these traumatic events despite improvements and being able to return to work more than once. The representative submitted that as the worker's flashbacks and triggers relate to the same series of traumatic events that led to her 2011 claim, there is a recurrence of the original compensable injury. As there was an intervening event involving another fatal cardiac arrest call that was very similar to the call that took the worker off work in 2011, this could be classified as a new accident under the acute reaction to a traumatic event. Alternatively, as the event is similar to the first accident, it could be considered a trigger in relation to the previous accident, causing a recurrence. It was submitted that either way, the traumatic events the worker has suffered at work have caused a lasting effect on her psychological health.
The employer was represented by an advocate and by its OHS Coordinator. The employer's advocate participated in the hearing by teleconference, and the employer's OHS Coordinator attended the hearing in person.
The employer's position was that they agreed with the WCB's decisions denying further benefit entitlement with respect to the 2011 claim and denying responsibility for the 2017 claim.
Referring first to the 2017 claim, the employer's advocate submitted there was no evidence to support that the worker sustained a work injury as defined in the Act, or PTSD, as a result of the 2017 incident. The advocate submitted that although the worker had referred to an April 2017 cardiac arrest call as the cause of her psychological condition, the evidence did not support that this was the case. Rather, the evidence indicated that the main causes for the worker's condition were non-occupational in nature.
The employer's advocate noted that the medical reports on file, especially initially, did not primarily focus on the workplace event. In their view, it was noteworthy that while some of the psychological reports cited the worker's 2011 symptoms, they did not speak to the single cardiac call in April 2017. Further, when citing potential past PTSD, the reports basically referred to the worker's stated history of PTSD, but no reports from 2011 actually cited PTSD.
The employer's advocate agreed with the worker's treating psychiatrist's statement that the worker "…likely does not meet the strict definition of the diagnosis" of PTSD. The advocate noted that the psychiatrist went on to state that he did not feel the worker should return to her pre-accident work as an emergency responder and asked that the WCB retrain her. The advocate argued, however, that such a statement and request does not equate to a cause and effect connection between any work-related injury and a need for treatment and vocational rehabilitation.
The employer's advocate submitted that Review Office correctly determined that the 2017 claim and injury did not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD, and that PTSD was not a factor in the adjudication of the claim. He acknowledged that the 2017 cardiac arrest call could have been traumatic, but submitted it was a fairly routine call and something the worker would have gone to on a regular basis. He noted that it is an unfortunate reality of living in a small community that emergency responders would routinely go to calls involving people they know.
With respect to the 2011 claim, the employer's advocate conceded that the issue as to whether the worker's symptoms following the 2017 incident could be interpreted as a recurrence of the 2011 workplace injury was a little more contentious. He submitted, however, that the well-documented non-occupational pre-existing issues were, on a balance of probabilities, the most likely cause of the worker's post-2011 symptoms and periods of disability.
The employer's advocate commented that the hospital report from April 2017 was noteworthy, in that it reported depression and suicidal threats, personal issues and a history of depression, and did not cite any work-related cause for the worker's episode. The advocate referred to the WCB psychological consultant's March 29, 2018 report, including her comments that the diagnosis appeared to be panic attacks and normal grief process, resolving, and stated that the employer agreed with the information and conclusions cited by the psychological consultant and with the adjudicator's April 30, 2018 decision and the Review Office conclusions.
Issue 1. Whether or not the worker is entitled to further benefits in relation to the February 28, 2011 accident.
For the appeal on this issue to be successful, the panel must find, on a balance of probabilities, that the worker's further loss of earning capacity and/or need for medical aid was causally or directly related to her February 28, 2011 compensable injury. The panel is unable to make that finding, for the reasons that follow.
The worker has an accepted claim for a psychological injury arising out of the February 28, 2011 accident. While the worker's representative argued that the worker has been diagnosed with PTSD and that the claim has been accepted on that basis, the panel finds that the evidence does not support such a diagnosis. In arriving at that conclusion, the panel places weight on the contemporaneous medical reports, and notes that while reference is made in certain reports to post-traumatic stress symptomatology, the treating healthcare providers do not provide a diagnosis of PTSD. In chart notes dated March 25, 2011 and the Doctor First Report dated April 12, 2011, the treating physician simply queried PTSD and referred the worker to a psychiatrist. The treating psychiatrist, who assessed the worker on April 20, 2011, provided diagnoses based on the DSM-IV, of "Major depressive episode - moderate - without psychotic features" and "Posttraumatic stress disorder symptomatology."
The panel accepts, however, that a specific diagnosis is not necessary in order for a psychological injury to be compensable, and that the worker suffered a compensable psychological injury as a result of the February 28, 2011 workplace incident.
Information on file shows that the worker was off work for approximately four months, and was cleared to return to her full-time regular duties on June 27, 2011. The panel is satisfied that the evidence shows, on a balance of probabilities, that the worker's symptoms had materially resolved by that time. A June 17, 2011 letter from the treating psychiatrist thus noted that the worker had been off work for a number of months because of depressive symptoms, and had described a significant improvement. The psychiatrist stated that based on his assessment of the worker on June 16, 2011, the worker would be able to resume her regular duties, with a reasonable start date of June 27, 2011. The case manager further noted in a memorandum to file dated June 27, 2011 that he had spoken to the worker, who had confirmed that the psychiatrist had cleared her for full regular duty on June 27, 2011 and that she was to follow up with the psychiatrist as needed, but did not think it was necessary.
The evidence further shows that the worker had no contact with the WCB from June 2011 to November 2017, when she filed her Worker Incident Report for a psychological injury with a date of incident of January 16, 2017. In her Report, the worker indicated that she had issues with PTSD in the past and had been dealing with these issues for seven years. She also noted that she had been dealing with accidents and traumas on a regular basis, but there was no indication of difficulties with calls prior to April 2017.
In her submission, the worker's representative has argued that the worker had managed her symptoms until she suffered a relapse in 2014, at which time her psychiatrist provided a diagnosis of PTSD. The panel finds that in his report, the psychiatrist deals with significant personal and relationship traumas in particular, and his proposed plan is focused on addressing the worker's current relationship issues. The panel is satisfied that findings in the assessment report do not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD and that the worker's symptoms at the time were related to personal matters and not an ongoing workplace injury.
The evidence shows that the worker was off work in March and April 2014, then returned to her full work duties and worked another two and one half years as an emergency responder. In October 2016, she went off work again following the sudden death of her brother, and remained off work for another two months, after which she returned to work on January 16, 2017 and continued working for approximately three more months. The evidence indicates that during those months, the worker was having performance and attendance issues and that her supervisor would regularly check on her due to the situation with her brother.
While the worker's representative relied on the cardiac call on April 16, 2017 in particular as having triggered a recurrence of her 2011 claim, the panel is unable to accept that argument. In arriving at that conclusion, the panel places weight on the following:
• The hospital emergency department report from the worker's attendance on May 1, 2017 noted increased "mood lability" since the death of her brother, and provided diagnoses of mood disorder and situational stress, and made no mention of the April 16, 2017 cardiac call;
• The worker's supervisor confirmed to the WCB that the worker made no reference to the cardiac call at that time;
• Information on file shows that the first indication that the victim of that call was known to the worker or a "long time family friend" appears to be in a letter from the worker's representative to the treating psychiatrist dated April 24, 2019 and the written submission on the appeal to Review Office dated June 3, 2019;
• In her Worker Incident Report filed November 7, 2017, the worker indicated that everything came to a head in April, that there had been no specific incident, and it was "just the buildup of the trauma I have had to deal with;"
• The worker indicated in her initial discussion with the adjudicator on November 20, 2017 that dealing with the situation with her brother triggered her PTSD;
• In her October 29, 2018 appeal to Review Office, the worker indicated that her brother's death in 2016 "aggravated the prior symptoms of PTSD."
The worker's representative has further argued that the fact the worker's flashbacks, nightmares and triggers relate to the workplace trauma or same series of traumatic events which led to her 2011 claim shows there is a causal relationship to her work duties and a recurrence of her 2011 injury. Reference was made at the hearing to another incident which the worker said was the first call she attended as an emergency responder and to two "violent" motor vehicle accidents in 2010 or 2011. The panel notes that no claims were filed with the WCB with respect to these incidents, nor were these incidents specifically identified at or around the time the 2011 claim was made, the particular focus at the time being on the February 28, 2011 cardiac arrest call. Further, there was no indication as to how these particular incidents were related to or linked to the worker's work duties or incidents in 2017.
The panel notes that there are several references on the file to non-work-related pre-existing psychological conditions. In his April 27, 2011 report, the worker's treating physician had thus noted a family history of depression and some psychosocial difficulties in childhood, and described a difficult childhood history. The panel acknowledges the worker's comment at the hearing that she went through "traumatic stuff in my childhood" but that she was always a resilient person who worked hard for where she got and took care of herself.
The panel notes that claims for psychological injuries are particularly difficult to decide. There are multiple background influences and events which make up an individual's mental status and it is difficult to single out a specific causal factor. In this case, based on our review of all of the available evidence, on file and as presented at the hearing, the panel is unable to determine that the worker's current symptoms and psychological condition are directly related to her 2011 workplace incident and is therefore unable to find that the worker suffered a recurrence of her 2011 compensable injury.
The panel notes that numerous other things were described on file and at the hearing as being triggers for the worker's symptoms, including any stress or fatigue, being in a healthcare facility or driving by places where incidents have occurred.
In conclusion, the panel acknowledges the worker's current psychological difficulties, but is unable to relate those difficulties to the February 28, 2011 workplace incident.
Based on the foregoing, the panel finds, on a balance of probabilities, that the worker's further loss of earning capacity and/or need for further medical aid is not causally or directly related to her February 28, 2011 compensable injury. The worker is therefore not entitled to further benefits in relation to the February 28, 2011 accident.
The worker's appeal on this issue is dismissed.
Issue 2. Whether or not the claim for injury occurring January 16, 2017 is acceptable.
For the appeal on this issue to be successful, the panel must find, on a balance of probabilities, that the worker suffered a personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of her employment. The panel is unable to make that finding.
The panel finds that the worker was not diagnosed with PTSD with respect to the 2017 workplace incident and that the available medical evidence does not support that the worker's symptoms meet the applicable criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD.
The panel places weight on and accepts the March 29, 2018 opinion of the WCB psychological advisor that "…the diagnosis appears to be panic attacks and normal grief, resolving," and finds, on a balance of probabilities, that this diagnosis is not related to the worker's job duties.
The panel is therefore satisfied that the cardiac arrest incident in 2017 does not qualify as a new injury or acute reaction to a traumatic event under the definition of occupational disease.
Based on the foregoing, the panel finds, on a balance of probabilities, that the worker did not suffer a personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of her employment, and the claim for injury occurring January 16, 2017 is not acceptable.
The worker's appeal on this issue is dismissed.
M. L. Harrison, Presiding Officer
P. Challoner, Commissioner
P. Kraychuk, Commissioner
Recording Secretary, J. Lee
M. L. Harrison - Presiding Officer
(on behalf of the panel)
Signed at Winnipeg this 9th day of March, 2020