January 20, 2011
The Claimant in this case died of cardiac arrest days after surgery for a work-related knee injury. He had a pre-existing history of deep vein thrombosis, so physicians assumed that the cardiac arrest was the result of a clot induced pulmonary embolism. An autopsy would have confirmed the assumption, but none had been performed. Pathologists rendered conflicting medical opinions as to whether a reasonable physician could conclude that the death was the result of pulmonary embolism. The Virginia Workers compensation Commission’s Deputy Commissioner, and a majority of the Full Commission agreed that three causes could have resulted in the cardiac arrest and that, while pulmonary embolism was a possible cause, the evidence did not preponderate to prove that it was a more probable cause than the other two.