Compensation for disability or death from hospitalization, medical or surgical treatment, examinations or vocational rehabilitation training (§ 3.800).
(a) General. This section applies to claims received by VA before October 1, 1997. If it is determined that there is additional disability resulting from a disease or injury or aggravation of an existing disease or injury suffered as a result of hospitalization, medical or surgical treatment, examination, or vocational rehabilitation training, compensation will be payable for such additional disability. For claims received by VA on or after October 1, 1997, see § 3.361.
(b) Additional disability. In determining that additional disability exists, the following considerations will govern:
(1) The veteran's physical condition immediately prior to the disease or injury on which the claim for compensation is based will be compared with the subsequent physical condition resulting from the disease or injury, each body part involved being considered separately.
(i) As applied to examinations, the physical condition prior to the disease or injury will be the condition at time of beginning the physical examination as a result of which the disease or injury was sustained.
(ii) As applied to medical or surgical treatment, the physical condition prior to the disease or injury will be the condition which the specific medical or surgical treatment was designed to relieve.
(2) Compensation will not be payable under this section for the continuance or natural progress of a disease or injury for which the hospitalization, medical or surgical treatment, or examination was furnished, unless VA's failure to exercise reasonable skill and care in the diagnosis or treatment of the disease or injury caused additional disability or death that probably would have been prevented by proper diagnosis or treatment. Compensation will not be payable under this section for the continuance or natural progress of a disease or injury for which vocational rehabilitation training was provided.
(c) Cause. In determining whether such additional disability resulted from a disease or an injury or an aggravation of an existing disease or injury suffered as a result of training, hospitalization, medical or surgical treatment, or examination, the following considerations will govern:
(1) It will be necessary to show that the additional disability is actually the result of such disease or injury or an aggravation of an existing disease or injury and not merely coincidental therewith.
(2) The mere fact that aggravation occurred will not suffice to make the additional disability compensable in the absence of proof that it resulted from disease or injury or an aggravation of an existing disease or injury suffered as the result of training, hospitalization, medical or surgical treatment, or examination.
(3) Compensation is not payable for the necessary consequences of medical or surgical treatment or examination properly administered with the express or implied consent of the veteran, or, in appropriate cases, the veteran's representative. “Necessary consequences” are those which are certain to result from, or were intended to result from, the examination or medical or surgical treatment administered. Consequences otherwise certain or intended to result from a treatment will not be considered uncertain or unintended solely because it had not been determined at the time consent was given whether that treatment would in fact be administered.
(4) When the proximate cause of the injury suffered was the veteran's willful misconduct or failure to follow instructions, it will bar him (or her) from receipt of compensation hereunder except in the case of incompetent veterans.
(5) Compensation for disability resulting from the pursuit of vocational rehabilitation is not payable unless there is established a direct (proximate) causal connection between the injury or aggravation of an existing injury and some essential activity or function which is within the scope of the vocational rehabilitation course, not necessarily limited to activities or functions specifically designated by the Department of Veterans Affairs in the individual case, since ordinarily it is not to be expected that each and every different function and act of a veteran pursuant to his or her course of training will be particularly specified in the outline of the course or training program. For example, a disability resulting from the use of an item of mechanical or other equipment is within the purview of the statute if training in its use is implicit within the prescribed program or course outlined or if its use is implicit in the performance of some task or operation the trainee must learn to perform, although such use may not be especially mentioned in the training program. In determining whether the element of direct or proximate causation is present, it remains necessary for a distinction to be made between an injury arising out of an act performed in pursuance of the course of training, that is, a required “learning activity”, and one arising out of an activity which is incident to, related to, or coexistent with the pursuit of the program of training. For a case to fall within the statute there must have been sustained an injury which, but for the performance of a “learning activity” in the prescribed course of training, would not have been sustained. A meticulous examination into all the circumstances is required, including a consideration of the time and place of the incident producing the injury.
(6) Nursing home care furnished under section 1720 of title 38, United States Code is not hospitalization within the meaning of this section. Such a nursing home is an independent contractor and, accordingly, its agents and employees are not to be deemed agents and employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. If additional disability results from medical or surgical treatment or examination through negligence or other wrongful acts or omissions on the part of such a nursing home, its employees, or its agents, entitlement does not exist under this section unless there was an act or omission on the part of the Department of Veterans Affairs independently giving rise to such entitlement and such acts on the part of both proximately caused the additional disability.