Contagious Diseases or Compensable Injuries? The “Ordinary Diseases of Life” and the Workers’ Compensation Act – MGC

Contagious Diseases or Compensable Injuries? The “Ordinary Diseases of Life” and the Workers’ Compensation Act - MGC

My sister has been dealing with this for a number of months and has been pretty sick several times. I am a 23 year old male that has had these recurring bumps or boils in the buttocks area and no where else on my body for about a year now. I know this sounds gross, but I came across a bump on my penile shaft last Friday. The worst part was feeling I could never date men again. BUT no doctor ever mentioned I should test for staph infections!! Staphaseptic – This was the first thing I tried since it has staph in the name. One positive thing for Gummi: he’s given up booze and says he hasn’t had a drink for nine weeks.

The bese way to protect yourself is by practicing good personal grooming habits. Larson’s explains that exposure to contagious diseases, in principle, “resembles exposure to heat, cold and elements generally.” Therefore, courts will typically demand a showing of increased exposure to the contagious disease before compensation is awarded. He went on further to say this happens periodically because of a staph germ in her system. Wash equipment and clothes after each practice, match or bout. Ringworm (Tinea corporis) is a type of fungal infection that can be contracted almost anywhere on the body. The peculiar-risk approach requires a showing of added risk that is inherent to the employment itself. Her white cell count had slipped lower than that of many cancer patients.

Case law noted in Larson’s indicates that more and more courts are transferring from a peculiar risk approach to an actual risk approach in evaluating infectious diseases. Id. Theoretically, the peculiar-risk approach is a tougher standard to meet; however, it makes the more compelling case for compensability. For example, a nurse who contracts smallpox in a smallpox-infested hospital wing can more easily claim her disease was peculiar to her employment and be entitled to compensation in jurisdictions that have a “peculiar to the employment” clause. Yet in that same jurisdiction, an engineer who contracts smallpox would be denied compensation on the theory that she could have contracted smallpox anywhere, regardless of whether or not she actually contracted the disease on the job. Mine was resistant to antibiotics. In the above example, while the nurse’s diseases would still be compensable, the engineer would also have her diseases found to be compensable if she could prove that her employment placed her in a position where she was at an increased risk of exposure to smallpox, even if smallpox is not in any way peculiar to her business.

Contagious Diseases or Compensable Injuries? The “Ordinary Diseases of Life” and the Workers’ Compensation Act - MGC
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an antibiotic resistant type of staph infection. Studies have shown that medical professionals are at an increased risk of a contracting MRSA. At Driscoll Children’s Hospital, Corpus Christi, TX, thirty of 257 healthcare workers were colonized with MRSA, representing 12% of the medical staff.[1] In Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, IL, 16 of 105 members of the emergency room staff were MRSA positive.[2] However, medical professionals are not the only group at an increased risk to contract this disease. Those with weak immune systems, young children, the elderly, prison inmates and athletes in contact sports have also shown an increased risk to the disease. MSRA is just one example of a disease that medical professionals are potentially at a greater risk of contracting than the general public. It may be speculative to say whether or not a South Carolina court would find such a disease compensable under the current workers compensation statute, but certainly the argument could be made. Obviously, healthcare employers in South Carolina will strive to keep their employee’s safety a top priority.

However, if hospitals and other health care employers see a rising number of claims for workers compensation coverage for “everyday illnesses,” concerns over rising workers compensation costs would follow. For example, if influenza was found to be compensable, workers compensation costs for such a claim would be nominal. Type I is the kind that is associated with the sport of wrestling, which is in the same category as cold sores and fever blisters. In contrast, if MRSA is found to be compensable as an occupational disease for health care professionals, financial exposure for a single claim could be significant. The spread of MRSA outside of hospitals marks a huge step backwards in our never-ending fight against disease-causing bacteria, and experts fear that the germ will only grow more common. In fact, there is only one case that is directly on point. In Carlene Fox v.

Newberry County Memorial Hospital, the South Carolina Court of Appeals found that a nurse who had allegedly contracted herpetic whitlow during her employment with a hospital had suffered a compensable occupational disease, noting that contagious diseases commonly found in the public can be compensable if they meet statutory requirements outlined in the occupational disease statute. From that language, it appears that the courts will rely on the statutory language, and the question of whether or not an “ordinary disease of life” is compensable will become a question of fact specific to the disease and circumstances. The court did not indicate which theory of risk analysis it preferred, but its deferral to the workers’ compensation statute indicates that South Carolina would tend to follow a peculiar risk analysis for infectious diseases. Hospitals swab the noses of patients to see if they have MRSA and isolate them based on this (one of my pet peeves…I think it is a mistake to isolate based on a nasal swab…isolation based on active colonization or infection of a wound is one thing, labeling patients based on a nasal swab is another). The Fox case seems to indicate that such diseases would be compensable for medical professionals; however, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the issue. Medical and health care employers and their insurers would be wise to keep a watchful eye on the development of such claims. Compensable “ordinary diseases of life,” whether influenza, hepatitis or MRSA, could open the door to a flood of new claims to the Commission.

This legal update is published as a service to our clients and friends. It is intended to provide general information and does not constitute legal advice regarding any specific situation. [1] Ibarra M, Flatt T, Van Maele D, Ahmed A, Fergie J, Purcell K (December 2008). “Prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus nasal carriage in healthcare workers”. Pediatr. Infect. Dis.

Depending on the opinion of the doctor, you will be urged not to participate in practice or competition until you have taken medication for about seven days and no new outbreaks have occurred. 27 (12): 1109–11. This process can take days, giving the germ a chance to spread. “A prevalence study of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus colonization in emergency department health care workers”. Ann Emerg Med 52 (5): 525–8.

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