A Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court has ordered that a personal computer system be furnished to a homebound former health care worker suffering from latex sensitivity. This ruling is consistent with a national trend by the courts toward the recognition of the catastrophic impact of latex allergy upon general life pursuits.
The injured worker was so sensitized to latex that she could not leave her home to attend computer training. She was unable to handle ordinary textbooks and physical training aids because of her sensitivity to the ink and binding materials.
The Court reasoned that the allergic reaction that might be triggered by further exposure would be so severe that it could be life threatening. Evidence was offered from the worker's allergist that the victim's sensitivity was so extensive that it could be provoked by exposure to newsprint, plants and Kleenex. Initial reactions to many substances commonly found in school and office environments were manifested by hoarseness, hives and itching.
The Court decided that the insurance company should provide a personal home computer for training and for continued use in the victim's own business, provided that the carrier would be reimbursed from the Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation Fund. The personal computer, costing $1,577.26, was considered by the Court to be a reimbursable training cost. Neb. Rev. Stat. Section 48-162.01(3) and 48-162.03.
Additional expenses for other items related to the former health care worker's retraining were required to be approved by the Rehabilitation Specialist of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Courts Vocational Rehabilitation Fund prior to their purchase. Olmsted v. Kearney Clinic, et al, 200 WL 379154 (Neb. Work. Comp. Court 2000) Doc: 200 No:389 Decided April 7, 2000.