Discrepancies in the evaluation of incapacity for work in a patient with epidermolysis bullosa acquisita between public pension fund and occupational medicine expert raise the issue of competencies
A 50-year-old female patient suffering from a severe form of epidermolysis bullosa acquisita (EBA) took legal action against the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute (CPII) in an attempt to overturn their assessment that she was no longer capable of working as a seamstress but still capable of doing administrative jobs. Her claim was that she was not capable of doing any job at all. She was first diagnosed EBA in 2000, and the disease progressed slowly with intermittent remissions. In 2012, skin erosions appeared on her feet, followed by the loss of all toenails and lesions and infiltrations on the tongue and oral mucosa. Her whole body was covered in oozing wounds, she was in pain, and parts of her skin would stick to fabric while changing clothes or bandages. The most recent findings showed oesophageal stricture. She can consume only liquid food and is on the waiting list for receiving a feeding tube. The occupational health expert witness confirmed that the patient was generally incapable of work and was fighting her life. The judge and CPII lawyers fully accepted this report and the earlier assessment was overturned. To avoid incompetent assessments of working (in)capacity in the future, CPII and similar institutions should engage occupational medicine specialists to work in their assessment teams.