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BOSTIC v. DREHER ET AL. (09/16/65)


decided: September 16, 1965.


Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas No. 8 of Philadelphia County, Dec. T., 1964, No. 1725, in case of Alvin L. Bostic v. George Dreher et al.


Paul J. Senesky, with him Joseph J. Murphy, and Murphy & Senesky, for appellants.

Carl M. Mazzocone, with him Sheer & Mazzocone, for appellee.

Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, and Hoffman, JJ. (Flood, J., absent). Opinion by Wright, J.

Author: Wright

[ 206 Pa. Super. Page 258]

This is a workmen's compensation case. The insurance carrier has appealed from an order of the court of common pleas sustaining the refusal of the compensation authorities to terminate compensation. The primary question involved is whether the claimant was

[ 206 Pa. Super. Page 259]

    justified in refusing to submit to a second myelogram.*fn1

Alvin L. Bostic, the claimant, was employed by George Dreher as a laborer. On July 10, 1962, while loading a conveyor, claimant was struck by a stone and injured his lower back. An open agreement was executed calling for payment of compensation for total disability. On October 14, 1963, the insurance carrier filed a petition for termination alleging that claimant's disability had ceased, to which petition claimant filed an answer. After taking testimony, the Referee found that claimant was still totally disabled, and that claimant was "reasonably apprehensive" about submitting to a second myelogram. The termination petition was therefore dismissed and compensation payments were continued. The Board affirmed the Referee. As previously indicated, the court of common pleas affirmed the Board, and the insurance carrier has appealed.

The record discloses that the original myelogram by Dr. Frederick Goeringer, Chief Orthopedic Specialist at the Misericordia Hospital, revealed a small defect at the interspace between L-5 and S-1. According to claimant's testimony, he was willing to submit to a laminectomy and Dr. Goeringer wanted to perform that operation. However, the insurance carrier objected and demanded that claimant submit to a second myelogram. Its witness was Dr. Leonard Klinghoffer, a staff specialist in orthopedic surgery at Graduate Hospital, University of Pennsylvania, who first examined claimant on November 6, 1962. He was of the opinion that claimant "probably had a herniated disc". He attempted to treat claimant by pelvic traction, but this did not improve the condition. Dr. Robert Andrew, neurosurgeon, was then called into consultation.

[ 206 Pa. Super. Page 260]

With regard to the first myelogram, Dr. Klinghoffer testified as follows: "Dr. Andrew wasn't impressed with it too much and he thought he would like to see another myelogram. If this questionable finding was seen again, then it would have significance. On the basis of this alone he didn't think he would want to make a diagnosis of a herniated disc".

Section 314 of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act*fn2 requires an injured employe to submit himself for physical examination, and provides that refusal or neglect to do so, without reasonable cause or excuse, shall deprive him of the right to compensation.

[ 206 Pa. Super. Page 261]

Under this section, an order requiring further physical examination is a matter for the sound discretion of the compensation authorities, and nothing less than a manifest abuse of that discretion will justify the interference of the court: Roach v. Oswald Lever Co., 274 Pa. 139, 117 A. 785. Cf. Gabersek v. Hillman C. & C. Co., 107 Pa. Superior Ct. 1, 162 A. 503; Rennard v. Rouscville Cooperage Co., 141 Pa. Superior Ct. 286, 15 A.2d 48.

Section 306(f) of the statute (77 P.S. 531) contains similar language, as follows: "If the employe shall refuse reasonable services rendered by duly licensed practitioners of the healing arts, surgical, medical and hospital services, treatment, medicines and supplies, tendered to him by his employer, he shall forfeit all rights to compensation for any injury or any increase in his incapacity shown to have resulted from such refusal". In Karasavage v. Phila. & R. C. & I. Co., 76 Pa. Superior Ct. 83, the claimant gave as his reason for refusing an eye operation the fact that he knew of a case in which a similar operation had been unsuccessful and had caused complete loss of vision. It was held that the question whether or not claimant's refusal was justified was one of fact for the compensation authorities. In determining the question of the reasonableness of the refusal there must be considered the extent of the pain, suffering, and inconvenience entailed by the operation in connection with the benefit which will probably result from it, whether the latter is such as reasonably to justify the former: Hanyok v. Pa. Coal & Coke Corp., 155 Pa. Superior Ct. 194, 38 A.2d 537. See also Ream v. Saxman Coal & Coke Co., 191 Pa. Superior Ct. 408, 156 A.2d 365; Beener v. North American Machine Co., 204 Pa. Superior Ct. 506, 205 A.2d 665.

In the case at bar, claimant's refusal to submit to a second myelogram was based upon his reaction to

[ 206 Pa. Super. Page 262]

    the first one, which assertedly resulted in the development of phlebitis. "Well, my leg swelled up and the veins jumped out as big as my fingers. I hemorrhaged through the nose and mouth. I got chills and fever. A friend of mine had to rush me to the hospital. I couldn't walk". Claimant takes the position that a ruptured disc may be diagnosed and repaired without the performance of a myelogram, and that its indiscriminate use as a diagnostic technique can lead to serious and harmful side effects.*fn3 Howbeit, we all agree with the court below that there was no abuse of discretion on the part of the compensation authorities in determining that claimant's refusal to submit to a second myelogram was not without reasonable cause or excuse.

Appellant has advanced a second contention which is mentioned only to indicate that it has not been overlooked. We find no merit in the argument that Dr. Klinghoffer's testimony "makes out a prima facie change of disability". Appellant concedes that it had the burden of proof. See Knight v. Millard, 350 Pa. 17, 38 A.2d 264; Lackman v. F. W. Woolworth Co., 205 Pa. Superior Ct. 129, 208 A.2d 33. The credibility and weight of the testimony was for the Board, and the record discloses no capricious disregard of competent evidence. Cf. Verna v. Stabler, 204 Pa. Superior Ct. 87, 203 A.2d 578.

[ 206 Pa. Super. Page 263]

The appeal is dismissed, and the record is remitted to the court below for the entry of a judgment in favor of the claimant. As so entered, the judgment is affirmed. See Miller v. Pittsburgh Coal Co., 77 Pa. Superior Ct. 51.


Appeal dismissed, and record remitted for entry of judgment in favor of claimant.

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