Are you covered by workers' Comp. While walking outdoors on break?

MARY HUDAK-LEE WAS EMPLOYED BY BAXTER COUNTY REGIONAL HOSPITAL SINCE 2006. Duringthe early morning hours of January 1,2008, she was injured while taking a walk outside during her break. Mary filed a claim for Workers' Compensation requesting reasonable and necessary medical treatment and temporary total disability benefits. The hospital and its Workers' Compensation Insurance Carrier denied Mary's claim. A hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on November 5, 2008. Mary testified that on December 31, 2007, she received a call from a clinical coordinator asking her if she could work the twelve-hour night shift from 7:00 p.m., until 7:00 a.m., even though Mary was on vacation. Mary agreed, and at the beginning of her shift she performed her normal duties. However, at about 11:30 p.m., she was asked to provide one-on-one observation of a suicidal patient. At approximately 2:30 a.m., a co-worker offered to relieve Mary for her break. Mary accepted the offer and left the room with the intention to go outside for a few minutes to revive herself in the night air. She explained that she was sleepy because she awakened early the prior morning because she had not expected to be working that evening. According to Mary, she was not required to clock out before taking her break. She stated that she stopped at the rest room and then took the elevator down to the first floor and exited the hospital through the main entrance. She stated that she planned to follow the sidewalk to a side entrance near the ER. However, before making it back inside, she fell, hitting the ground and heard a "popping " noise and was in immediate pain. She could not walk and used her arms and elbows to drag herself to the entrance to the ER where the ER staff x-rayed her hip and discovered that it was broken. A few hours later, she was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Springfield, Missouri where she underwent hip-replacement surgery. She remained out of work until May 5, 2008, when she returned to work at the hospital. A Nurse Leader testified for the hospital that hospital policy required all employees clock-out if they left their unit on break. She also stated that employees were not supposed to leave the unit during their fifteen-minute breaks because they could not easily be called upon to assist in their unit in the event of an emergency. Initially, she maintained that Mary had no business going outdoors. However, under cross examination, she conceded...

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