In re Patla, W.C. No

Full title: IN THE MATTER OF THE CLAIM OF SUSANNA R. PATLA, Claimant, v. BETHESDA CARE…

Court: Industrial Claim Appeals Office

Date published: Jul 20, 1995

Facts

The respondent seeks review of a final order of Administrative Law Judge Wheelock (ALJ) which granted the claimant’s request for a change in the authorized treating physician and awarded temporary total disability benefits commencing May 10, 1993. We affirm.

This case has a complex procedural history. A review of a portion of that history is necessary to understand the appellate issues and our resolution of those issues.

The claimant sustained a compensable injury to her back and left arm in September 1992. Eventually, the claimant came under the care of Dr. Jenks, whose primary diagnosis was reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD).

Dr. Jenks prescribed a course of nerve blocks as a treatment for the claimant’s RSD. However, on May 10, 1993, Dr. Jenks opined that the claimant was at maximum medical improvement (MMI), and that she had a nineteen percent left upper extremity impairment. Based on this opinion, the respondent filed a final admission of liability dated May 24, 1993.

Thereafter, the claimant continued to experience difficulty with her left arm, and Dr. Jenks prescribed additional nerve blocks. The claimant did not improve, and by December 15, 1993, Dr. Jenks modified his diagnosis to total body pain of uncertain etiology, and depression.

Sometime in early 1994, the claimant asked Dr. Jenks to refer her to Dr. Rook. However, Dr. Jenks declined to do so and instead referred the claimant to the “Spaulding Clinic.” Despite this referral, Dr. Jenks stated, on March 18, 1994, that his opinions concerning the date of MMI and the claimant’s permanent impairment rating had not changed.

In March 1994, the claimant filed a Petition to Reopen the Claim based upon a worsened condition. On May 31, 1994, the respondent filed a General Admission of Liability stating that it was “voluntarily reopening” the claim. However, the respondent did not admit liability for any specific temporary total disability benefits.

Issue

Decision

The respondent next contends that the ALJ erred in determining that the claimant made a “proper showing” for a change in the authorized treating physician from Dr. Jenks to Dr. Rook. We reject this argument.

We have previously held that § 8-43-404(5)(a) affords the ALJ substantial discretion in determining whether the claimant has made a “proper showing” for a change in the authorized treating physician. Brenneman v. McDuff Electronics, W.C. No. 3-936-449, November 14, 1991; Carson v. Wal Mart, W.C. No. 3-964-097, April 12, 1993. Thus, we may not interfere with the ALJ’s order unless it is beyond the bounds of reason. See Coates, Reid Waldron v. Vigil856 P.2d 850 (Colo. 1993).

Here, the claimant’s testimony, which the ALJ found credible, supports the ALJ’s finding that the claimant no longer desires treatment from Dr. Jenks, and Dr. Jenks no longer desires to provide treatment to the claimant. This evidence, taken with evidence that Dr. Rook has substantial experience in treating RSD and has prescribed a course of treatment different than that of Dr. Jenks, is ample evidence in support of the ALJ’s order.

It is true, as the respondent argues, that the record contains some evidence from which a contrary conclusion could have been reached. However, we may not substitute our judgment for that of the ALJ concerning the probative weight of the evidence. Section 8-43-301(8), C.R.S. (1994 Cum. Supp.).

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the ALJ’s order, dated January 27, 1995, is affirmed.

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