ECAB decision rejects doctor’s opinion letter regarding knee impairment.

Posted on Jan 04, 2014

A recent ECAB decision reversed a decision to terminate benefits by OWCP based on a doctor’s medical opinion letter that failed to discuss the accepted medical conditions and statement of accepted facts, and instead focused on another medical condition which ECAB found to be unrelated to the accepted facts and disabling conditions already present in the case.   Dr, Aubrey Swartz stated that chondromalacia was present in the claimant’s knee, and was more a result of non-work inactivity and claimant’s obesity.   Another physician, Dr. Vatche Cabayan, disagreed with this diagnosis and the basis of Dr. Swartz’ medical opinion regarding claimant’s aggravation of a preexisting knee injury.  He stated that the softening of cartilage in claimant’s knee (chondromalacia) was not reversible and likely related to claimant’s previous knee injury.   He also stated that claimant’s obesity can be attributed to lack of activity based on her limitations and is also related to the workplace injury.   ECAB, while appearing to find Dr. Cabayan’s opinion more persuasive, reversed the denial of benefits since it relied on Dr. Swartz’ opinion regarding chondromalacia, a medical condition which was not part of the list of medical conditions being considered in the case until it appeared in Dr. Swartz’ opinion letter.

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