New Jersey Latex Victim Awarded Continued Medical Treatment

A nurse who was exposed to latex gloves at a New Jersey nursing home has been awarded a Court-approved settlement for continuing medical treatment and medications. The New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation recently approved a settlement for permanent partial disability due to the residuals of her medical condition and has also ordered the workers’ compensation insurance company, New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company, to pay for medical treatment and medications required to relieve and cure the medical condition flowing from the employee’s sensitivity to latex products. 

As a result of her exposure to latex gloves the nurse suffers from: headaches, a sinus condition, facial pressure, itching and burning eyes, hives, and a pulmonary condition. Although she has never had anaphylactic shock, the employee did test positive for latex sensitivity in a RAST test. 

He claim is significant since the Court adopted the individual reaction theory, consistent with a majority of jurisdictions, and placed the responsibility upon the employer where the initial reaction occurred. Additionally, since New Jersey law permits a party to file an Application to Review or Modify a Formal Award within two years of the last payment, the Court retains jurisdiction over the claim if an application is filed within two years of the last authorized medical treatment. Therefore, because of the order for continuing medical treatment, the nurse may theoretically seek an increase in her permanent disability award beyond the usual two year window and the claim may never be officially closed. Poggi v. Dolly Mount Nursing Home, 98-041031 (NJ Division of Workers’ Compensation) decided May 15, 2000.