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Sparling v. Providence Health System Oregon

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 08-21-2013
Case #: A148031
Hadlock, J. for the Court; Sercombe, P.J.; and Edmonds, S.J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A148031.pdf

Workers Compensation: An injured worker's "attending physician" is not the only medical provider who can provide medical services to the injured worker. However, only the "attending physician" may authorize the payment of temporary total disability compensation to the injured worker.

Sparling and her employer both challenged an order of the Workers' Compensation Board ("board") awarding Sparling temporary total disability ("TTD") benefits. Sparling suffered a compensable lumbar strain in April 2006 while working for the employer. Sparling received treatment from Dr. Tsai, who became her "attending physician." Pursuant to this injury, Sparling received TTD benefits through March 2008 but did not receive permanent disability benefits. In March 2008, Dr. Tsai recommended further work restrictions and Sparling filed an aggravation claim. The employer denied the claim. In May 2008, Sparling consulted Dr. Movius, who diagnosed her with a sacroiliac and iliolumbar strain. Sparling treated with Dr. Movius through August 2009. On review, Sparling argued that the board erred by declining to award her TTD benefits starting in either 2008 or 2009, based on Dr. Movius's diagnosis and recommendations. The Court denied Sparling’s petition on the grounds that only an "attending physician may authorize payment of [TTD] compensation." According to ORS 656.005(12)(b), an "'attending physician' means a doctor, physician or physician assistant who is primarily responsible for the treatment of a worker's compensable injury." The Court determined that Dr. Tsai was Sparling's attending physician, not Dr. Movius, and, consequently, held that only Dr. Tsai may authorize payment of TTD compensation to Sparling. The employer cross-petitioned on the basis that the board should not have awarded any TTD benefits. Affirmed on petition and on cross-petition.