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CHAMBERLAIN CORPORATION v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND EUGENE VAN BUSKIRK (08/03/73)

decided: August 3, 1973.

CHAMBERLAIN CORPORATION, APPELLANT,
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND EUGENE VAN BUSKIRK, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of Eugene Van Buskirk v. Chamberlain Corporation, No. A-65924.

COUNSEL

Joseph E. Gallagher, with him O'Malley, Morgan, Bour & Gallagher, for appellant.

Anthony J. Popeck, for appellees.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 9 Pa. Commw. Page 487]

The Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board granted total disability benefits, medical and surgical expenses to the claimant and Defendant appeals to this Court.

On Saturday, June 13, 1970, while the claimant was cleaning the inside of a tank, he slipped on excess oil and injured his back causing sharp pains in his right hip and leg. He promptly informed his foreman of the incident. The following Monday he consulted the company physician who recommended the use of a heat lamp and the application of patent medicinal Ben-Gay. The following day, he again consulted the company doctor who recommended continued heat and Ben-Gay treatment. Since there was no diminution of pain, he decided to obtain the services of his own physician, Doctor Anthony G. Zale. After examining the radio-logical results, Doctor Zale hospitalized the claimant two days later. Following neurosurgical consultation, a ruptured disc was removed by Doctor Louis Guerrieri on June 26, 1970. The claimant returned to work December 1970. More surgery was performed on claimant's back in late 1971.

The Referee awarded the claimant total disability benefits and medical expenses, including the cost of medical services of Doctor Zale, the fee of the neurosurgeon

[ 9 Pa. Commw. Page 488]

    and hospital expenses. The Referee rejected a claim for the neurosurgical expenses or the other medical expenses incurred in 1971. The employer limited its appeal to the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board to that part of the Referee's Order which granted the initial hospital and medical expenses involved in the surgery of June 26, 1970. The claimant did not appeal the order which denied additional medical expenses incident to the surgery performed in September 1971. The Board affirmed the Referee.

The Appellant-employer's position is that it is not responsible for medical services supplied by Appellee's personal physicians and the other expenses incident to those services which were not authorized by the Appellant-employer. Appellant argues that the Appellee had available to him adequate professional services willingly supplied by Appellant.

Section 306(f) of the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, Art. III, § 306(e), as amended, 77 P.S. § 531, provides in pertinent part: "During the first twelve months after disability begins, the employer shall furnish reasonable surgical and medical services, services rendered by duly licensed practitioners of the healing arts, medicines, and supplies, as and when needed, unless the employe refuses to allow them to be furnished by the employer. If the employer shall, upon application made to him, refuse to furnish such services, medicines, and supplies, the employe may procure same and shall receive from the employer the reasonable cost thereof within the above limitation. . . ."

The statute requires that an employer's doctor ". . . make such an examination, and exercise such professional skill, as is reasonably required." Nury v. Consumers Mining Company, 159 Pa. Superior Ct. 373, 376, ...


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