What is Valley Fever? Workers’ Compensation Attorney Explains the Basics

As part of Adelson, Testan, Brundo and Jimenez’ ongoing educational seminar series, presented on ATB Law’s YouTube Channel, David Tew, managing partner at our Fresno office, covers workers’ compensation issues and defense strategies related to Valley Fever.

Valley Fever is also known as coccidiomycosis, an infection in the lungs and respiratory system caused by inhalation of Coccidioides immitis, a fungus that grows in soil in areas of the US and Central and South America. Valley Fever generally causes a temporary disability, and in its most common forms is not a cause to be unable to work. In cases where permanent disability does arise from Valley Fever, impairment can range from 0% to 100% disability, and in rarer cases may involve a death benefit.

Avenues of Workers’ Compensation Defense against Valley Fever

Valley Fever must be diagnosed through lab tests to create substantial medical evidence for a workers’ compensation claim. When deposing a worker claiming a Valley Fever injury, it’s also important to determine the symptoms, as Valley Fever’s various forms present with classic symptoms.  In addition, employees who live or visit endemic areas on a non-industrial basis will have difficulty proving industrial exposure, as will those who do not have a greater exposure than that of the general public. There are, therefore, four common avenues of defense against workers’ compensation claims involving Valley Fever:

  • If lab tests show negative results for Valley Fever but these are contradicted by a doctor’s opinion, there is a strong opportunity for defense if an exact copy of the negative lab tests is obtained.
  • Negative symptoms combined with a negative lab test are a possible avenue of defense.
  • Valley Fever can be recurring, and therefore a pre-existing condition that would not be covered under workers’ compensation.
  • Directly compare the employee’s risk of exposure to that of the general public through complete discovery and history of residence, travel, and illnesses, among other factors. If the employee’s risk was not greater than that of the public, the employee may not meet the bar of proving industrial exposure.

As one of the top workers’ compensation defense firms in the nation, Adelson, Testan, et al. is experienced in defending against all types of claims, including Valley Fever. Learn more about Valley Fever, including how it is spread, treatment options, diagnosis, complications, and further defense strategies by watching David Tew’s video seminar on Valley Fever on YouTube.

Compounding Drugs Could Create Higher Workers Compensation Liability

Jeffrey M. Adelson, managing partner of the Santa Ana, California office of Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez, the national workers’ compensation defense firm, was recently quoted in an article on the front page of Business Insurance discussing the risks and costs associated with contaminated compound drugs in workers’ compensation cases.

Concerns over the practice of large scale compounding are rising following an outbreak of meningitis linked to a New England drug compounding company, and as Adelson noted for Business Insurance, this could have far reaching implications for employers.

How Drug Compounding Becomes a Risk

Under current regulations, in most cases compounded medication should only be manufactured to meet the customized dosage needs of individual patients via prescription when more commercially available drugs are not adequate. Exceptions would include cases of national drug shortages.

However, it appears that some pharmacies might be manufacturing compounded medication on a larger scale without prior approval by the FDA and other regulatory bodies. This appears to be the case with New England Compounding Pharmacy, Inc., the pharmacy linked to doses of injectable steroids contaminated with meningitis that have resulted in the loss of 20 lives and caused 250 confirmed meningitis cases.

Ordinarily, compounding pharmacies are not subject to the greater oversight put on large scale manufacturers of compound drugs, nor are they subject to the same price controls. This sets up the scenario in which batches of contaminated drugs are distributed, which could potentially raise the cost of a workers’ compensation claim.

Contaminated Compounds and Workers’ Comp

In his observations to Business Insurance, Adelson pointed out not only the likelihood of a workers’ compensation claimant receiving contaminated medication in large scale cases like that of the New England Compounding Pharmacy, but the ways in which this could impact the cost of workers’ compensation claims:

  • As the contaminated medication would be administered under the original workers’ compensation claim, the employer and insurer could be held liable for the additional costs to treat the health problems arising from the contamination.
  • Contamination with bacteria such as meningitis that can cause lifetime disability and even death “could turn a typical claim into a catastrophic case,” says Adelson.
  • Employers could protect themselves by subrogating under a product liability argument. Even so, the additional costs represented by taking this defense through to resolution could inflate the workers’ compensation claim.

Adelson, Testan, et al. is committed to proactively representing its clients’ litigation needs in workers’ compensation defense. We encourage our clients to ask questions about emerging issues like drug compounding and how this could impact existing and future workers’ compensation claims.


What is MRSA? Adelson, Testan, et al. Explains the Basics

MRSA, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, is a medical condition caused by staph bacterium. MRSA can be transmitted through contact with skin or the personal items of anyone carrying MRSA on their skin, even if they do not have an infection.  In workers’ compensation claims, ordinarily an injured worker has the burden of establishing that an injury arose out of employment. California Labor Code Section 3212.8 provides a presumption that MRSA arose out of employment or the course of employment (AOE/COE) for several classes of workers, whether they are volunteers, partly paid, or fully paid:

  • Sheriff’s officers
  • Police, firefighters and related personnel
  • Forestry (primary duty of firefighting)
  • Fish and game workers

Defending Against MRSA Related Claims

The presumption covers MRSA skin conditions and internal infections for workers during their period of service. Schools, prisons and jails, long term care facilities, gyms, contact sports, and day care centers are all frequent points of origination for such MRSA infections. Given this information, employers must first decide whether to accept or deny a worker’s compensation claim. In industries that do not have a presumption, the employee must prove the MRSA infection is AOE/COE. Employers should take action to:

  • Prove exposure outside of work, such as at a doctor’s visit or contact with an infected person.
  • Establish a full medical history, including all hospital and doctor visits and prescriptions.
  • Run criminal and civil background checks for other potential sources of infection, such as prior convictions for drug use.
  • Obtain a general medical history of persons in close contact who may have transmitted MRSA to the employee.

For presumption cases, it is difficult to rebut a claim, but MRSA related conditions other than skin infections and blood borne diseases are not covered by the presumption. Given the necessity of early treatment in MRSA cases, it may be more cost effective to pay for early medical treatment and fight the claim afterwards. Remember, providing a benefit does not automatically advance approval of a claim.

Learn more about defending against worker’s compensation claims involving MRSA infections from David Tew, Managing Partner of the Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez Fresno office in our educational seminar series by clicking on the YouTube video below or contact the law offices of Adelson, Testan, et al. for more information.