Tennessee Nurse’s PTSD Claim Fails In Spite of Flashback to Being Raped As Child

In an opinion not yet designated for publication [see Ireton v. Horizon Mental Health Mgmt., LLC, 2016 Tenn. LEXIS 3 (Jan. 19, 2016), a Tennessee appeals panel affirmed the denial of workers’ compensation benefits to a registered nurse of a psychiatric unit who contended that he suffered psychological injuries, depression and PTSD, after he attended an annual conference held by his employer during which a speaker told those attending that they should put themselves in the “patient’s shoes” and “imagine how it would feel when you’re asked, ‘Have you ever been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused’?” The nurse said he “freaked out” and had flashbacks of when he had been raped as a child by an older cousin. Soon thereafter, the nurse left his employment and did not return.

Utilizing an objective standard as to levels of stress [see Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, §§ 44.05, 56.06], the trial court found that the injuries were not compensable since the stress which the employee claimed as the cause of his depression and PTSD was not unusual. The appellate panel agreed, indicating the evidence supported a finding that the stress which the nurse contended caused his injuries was not abnormal, extraordinary, or unusual in comparison to the stress ordinarily experienced by an employee in the same type of duty, or even in comparison to the stress ordinarily experienced by the nurse himself in his capacity as a nurse working in a psychiatric unit.

This entry was posted in Case comment and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.