Court Determines that Worker’s Staph Infection Resulted from Compensable Injections, Is Eligible for WC

A worker injured his back while moving heavy equipment, and received treatment for the compensable injury. Part of his treatment plan involved epidural steroid injections in his lower back. He developed a staph infection and had to have serious surgeries. His employer did not argue that his initial injury was compensable, but they did question whether or not the injections caused his staph infection, and whether the subsequent surgeries were compensable.

Edwin Scott worked for Lowe’s Home Centers and was unloading a heavy appliance when he injured his back. He received an epidural steroid injection on May 9, 2014 and the other on May 29th. He developed an epidural abscess in his lower back on May 30th, a staph infection. Lowe’s expert neurosurgeon Dr. Eric Amundson testified that Mr. Scott was diabetic which was more likely to be the cause of the infection. He said it was rare to develop such an infection from epidural injections. Mr. Scott had two separate staph infections two years prior to this incident. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Eric McVey treated Mr. Scott and said that while he knew it was unusual for infections to result from epidural injections, he thought the injections caused the infection because of the location of the injections in relation to where the infection developed. He did not think the infection was really “spontaneous” as the employer argued, he thought that more likely than not, bacteria had been introduced to Scott’s system from the needle puncture. He also said that sometimes bacteria already present in the blood (Mr. Scott had developed staph infections before) could have infected the area that was inflamed from the injections.

The Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission determined that the infection was compensable since it resulted from the injections. Lowe’s contested this, but the Mississippi Court of Appeals upheld their decision.

Read the decision here.

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