On March 8, 2011, Clifford Mulford fell from a ladder while working for El Toro RV Inc. as a service writer. He sustained a catastrophic brain injury as a result of his fall and spent several months in the hospital. At the time of his release from the hospital, he was experiencing residual left side weakness, decreased memory, fatigue, and seizures.
Applicant was evaluated by H. Richard Adams, M.D., a neurologist. The parties appeared for a second expedited hearing on January 15, 2013 on the issue of the provision of home health care. At the hearing, applicant presented the WCJ and defendant with a note from Dr. Adams, dated January 14, 2013, that reads, “Home health or or [sic.] case manager RN to eval for ongoing home health assistance.”
The workers’ compensation administrative law judge found that applicant sustained industrial injury to his head and brain. The WCJ found that defendant was not liable for home health care from October 23, 2012 to the present,. In the accompanying Opinion on Decision, the WCJ explained that labor code section 4600(h) applied retroactively to applicant’s injury, and that applicant had not met his burden of showing that his doctor had prescribed home health care.
Applicant timely sought reconsideration, contending that the WCJ erred in finding that defendant was not liable for home health care from October 23, 2012 to the present. Applicant argues that section 4600(h) does not apply to his case. Alternatively, applicant argues that if section 4600(h) does apply to his case, he has met his burden of proof under section 4600(h). Reconsideration was denied in the panel decision of Mulford v El Toro RV inc.
The WCAB agreed with the WCJ that the language in SB 863 “clearly indicates that [section 4600(h)) applies to all pending cases prospectively from the date the statute became effective regardless of the date of injury[.)” (Report, p. 4.) Accordingly, it was applicant’s burden to prove that home health care services were “reasonably required to cure or relieve” applicant’s injury, and “prescribed by a physician and surgeon.” (Lab. Code, § 4600(h).)
Applicant has not done so. Dr. Adams’s December 5, 2012 Report does not include a prescription for home health care services. To the contrary, it makes no mention of home health care. Similarly, Dr. Adams’s January 14, 2013 note does not prescribe home health care services. Instead, it prescribes an evaluation to determine whether home health care services should be provided. Reconsideration was therefore denied.
Commissioner Sweeney in a dissenting opinion concurred with the majority that the recently-enacted Labor Code section 4600(h) applies to this case. However, “I would rescind the WCJ’s finding and return the matter to the WCJ to develop the record and obtain a supplemental report from applicant’s primary treating physician.”