APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION DIVISION
522 N.E.2d 692, 168 Ill. App. 3d 259, 119 Ill. Dec. 30 1988.IL.356
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Alexander P. White, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE WOODWARD delivered the opinion of the court. BARRY, P.J., and McCULLOUGH, McNAMARA, and CALVO, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WOODWARD
Claimant, Pedro Gallego, sought workers' compensation benefits for two injuries allegedly sustained while working for his employer. The alleged injuries to claimant's hand occurred on April 5, 1980, and March 19, 1982. The cases were consolidated and heard before an arbitrator. Regarding both injuries, the arbitrator found that claimant was temporarily totally disabled and was entitled to reasonable and necessary medical expenses resulting from the accidents.
The Industrial Commission found that a causal relationship existed between claimant's injuries on April 15, 1980, and his condition of ill-being until March 15, 1982, but not thereafter. The Commission further found that claimant failed to prove that he sustained accidental injuries arising out of and in the course of his employment on March 19, 1982. The circuit court of Cook County confirmed the Commission's decision, and this appeal followed.
Respondent paid the claimant temporary total disability from April 15, 1980, to March 16, 1982. Claimant has not raised the issue of the extent of his permanent disability, and thus, we do not address this issue.
At arbitration, claimant stated that he had worked 12 years for the respondent at the time of the initial injury. He also testified that in 1975, he had suffered an injury to the fourth finger of his right hand. After a recovery period, claimant received a settlement under the Workers' Compensation Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 138.1 et seq.).
On April 15, 1980, while working on a bus and standing in a pit full of oil and fuel to change a power steering filter, he slipped while climbing the pit stairs and struck the right side of his body on the ground, cutting his right hand on an oil drain. He cut the outer aspect of the dorsum of the right hand.
After reporting the injury to his foreman, claimant was taken to Henrotin Hospital and treated. Records of Henrotin Hospital dated April 15, 1980, show emergency room treatment to claimant's right hand. Physical examination records noted swelling of the right hand on the dorsal aspect at the fourth metacarpal bone with superficial lacerations on the ulnar aspect of the right hand.
The following day, claimant saw a physician at the Elston Clinic for treatment of his right hand. The Elston Clinic referred claimant to see Dr. Geline, who saw him on April 22, 1980. Dr. Geline found a 3-cm. traverse laceration of the ulnar side of the right hand with some swelling on the dorsum of the hand in the region of the fourth metacarpal. The fourth and fifth fingers were somewhat stiff, with the patient holding them together voluntarily. The doctor's impression was contusion and laceration of the right hand. A follow-up examination on April 29, 1980, showed no improvement, with considerable guarding of motion of the fourth and fifth fingers. A course of physical therapy was advised.
Another examination on May 6, 1980, revealed persistent and gross restricted motion of the fourth and fifth fingers. At this time, Dr. Geline recommended a period of immobilization of the right hand.
Dr. Geline released claimant to return to work in mid-May 1980. At that time, claimant still experienced considerable pain in his right hand, and he visited Dr. Raidbard. On May 15, 1980, claimant was admitted into Grant Hospital, where he came under the care of Dr. Shahan Sarrafian, an orthopedic surgeon.
Principal diagnosis upon admission to Grant Hospital was soft tissue injury to right dorsal margin and upper right ulnar sheath; injury to the right hand; chest wall contusion with associated abdominal tenderness and trauma right hand with healed superficial lacerations laterally.
Veronica Douglas, a physical therapist at Grant Hospital, testified that she treated claimant for dysfunction of his hand beginning in May 1980. He had little or no use of the fingers of his hand at that time.
On June 2, 1980, Ms. Douglas noted a pronounced hard swelling (edema) of the dorsum of the ulnar side which was very inflamed and warm to touch. There was no active range of motion in the little or ring fingers. Vibration therapy to disperse the edema commenced on July 14, 1980. On September 24, 1980, Ms. Douglas noted claimant to be very confused about conflicting medical advice.
In or about September 1980, claimant went to Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital for a second opinion regarding his hand. There he was under the care of Dr. Robert Schenk, whose treatment of the injury included the injection of steroids into the affected area of the hand and immobilization of the affected fingers, treatment not advised by Dr. Sarrafian. Dr. Schenk was evidently claimant's primary physician until May 1981, at which time claimant returned to the care of Grant Hospital staff.
At arbitration, Ms. Douglas testified regarding the effect of two different hand specialists treating the claimant:
"My opinion at that time (June 1981) was that there had been a lot of confusion in the handling of his case that had been very unfair to him, and had he stayed with us instead of being taken away and being brought back again he would have continued to improve."
In May 1981, Dr. Sarrafian performed surgery on the claimant's hand; the surgical procedure consisted of the excision of thick, fibrous tissue from the dorsal aspect of the right hand and the extensor tendon sheath. This procedure was followed by tenolysis and neurolysis.
Subsequent to the surgery, Ms. Douglas saw claimant on June 3, 1981, and noted a delay in healing of the wound. This delay could have been natural. On June 8, 1981, fresh blood was noted on the dressing of the right hand. On June 15, 1981, Ms. Douglas found the wound to be less healed, and there was some fresh bruising on the dorsum of the hand. On July 6, 1981, a fresh ...