PRACTICE TIP: If a work injury has resulted in a diagnosis of de Quervain’s disease, make sure that the attending and consulting physicians are properly determining whether permanency remains in the hand or thumb.
Under Chapter 3 of the 2018 Workers’ Compensation Guidelines for Determining Permanency, Injuries to the Hand are discussed. Under Special Consideration 7, the diagnosis of de Quervain’s disease (tendinitis of the thumb) is discussed. Although the Special Consideration falls under the chapter relating to hand injuries, the Special Consideration specifies that de Quervain’s disease with or without a surgical release equals a 7.5 – 20% loss of use of the thumb depending on impairments. However, if there are “residual deficits of the wrist and the grip power of the hand is impaired” then the schedule loss of use is provided to the hand. This distinction can result in significant cost savings as the schedule to the thumb has a total value of 75 weeks compared to the schedule of the hand which has a total value of 244 weeks. Moreover, if your case has an average weekly wage generating the statutory maximum rate, then the dollar value can be significant.
In our experience, physicians often overlook the distinction set forth at Special Consideration 7 relating to injuries to the hand/wrist. At the point of permanency, a careful review of the medical opinions can result in significant cost-savings. Moreover, you should make sure that any opinion offered by a consulting physician properly considers Special Consideration 7 if the injured worker has been diagnosed with de Quervain’s disease.
If you have any questions about this or any other issue, contact David L. Niefer at (607) 723-0600 or any of the attorneys in our office. If you would like a training session on this or any area of the Workers’ Compensation Law, please do not hesitate to contact our firm.
This information is provided for general guidance only. This information should not be used as a substitute for consultation with legal counsel. Each case presents unique facts requiring individual analysis.