ACC ordered to pay

Last updated 05:00 12/08/2012

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The weight of a death in the family is a heavy burden to bear, but for a 45-year-old woman the pain of losing her father was compounded by an injury suffered at his funeral.

Adding insult to that injury, ACC declined her application for surgery, a decision overturned in a Dunedin court last week.

In August 2009, Angela Griffiths acted as a pall-bearer at the ceremony and helped carry her father's casket 50 metres from the church to the hearse. Being at the back of the coffin, she was the last person to hold its weight as she loaded it into the vehicle and as her arms were raised above her head she felt a “sharp pulling sensation” in her right shoulder.

Her GP later diagnosed it as a rotator cuff injury and she was treated with anaesthetic injections after X-rays revealed the damage.

By March 2010, the pain had not subsided and Griffiths was referred to orthopaedic surgeon Chris Williams, who three months later lodged an application with ACC for funding of elective surgery, asserting that his client's condition was the result of the original injury at the funeral.

The application was declined after the Clinical Advisory Panel said “a single episode injury has not been established”.

Williams was adamant Griffiths should be covered but the panel advised the injuries were more likely the result of degeneration or “repetitive microtrauma”.

Last week Dunedin District Court judge Martin Beattie ruled the injury was probably caused by her arm being in an unusual position and he ordered ACC pay the cost of surgery. Griffiths was also awarded costs of $3000.

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- Sunday Star Times

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