Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of John W. Myers v. Inter-State Tile & Mantel Co., Inc., No. FM 2053.
Ronald M. Katzman, with him Goldberg, Evans & Katzman, for appellant.
John J. Krafsig, Jr., for appellee, Myers.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
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This case involves the application of a superseded provision of Section 306(f) of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, 77 P.S. § 531, and should not, and will not, delay us long.
The version of Section 306(f) of the Act referred to required the employer to furnish surgical and medical services to his injured employe for a period of twelve months following disability. It further provided that the Board might order the employer to furnish medical, surgical and hospital services after the twelve months following disability if it was established that further care would result in restoring the injured employe's earning power to a substantial degree.*fn1 Section 306(f) was amended effective May 1, 1972, so as to require the employer to provide all surgical and medical services in connection with the employe's injuries. Act of March 29, 1972, P.L. No. 61, § 12, 77 P.S. § 531 (Supp. 1974-1975).
The claimant, John W. Myers, sustained back injuries in a fall at work on July 27, 1967. He submitted
[ 14 Pa. Commw. Page 269]
to four operations on his back, performed at Harrisburg by surgeons mutually agreed upon between him and the employer's insurance carrier. None of these operations effected other than temporary relief of claimant's admittedly totally disabling and very painful back ailment. After it became apparent that the fourth operation performed in March of 1970 was unsuccessful, the claimant consulted Dr. Erwin R. Schmidt, Jr., an eminent Philadelphia orthopedic surgeon associated with the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Schmidt, after examination and studies, recommended that the claimant undergo a fifth operation to be done by him as orthopedic surgeon assisted by Dr. Robert A. Groff, a neurosurgeon. The purpose of the operation was to effect a refusion of a vertebra of the spine. The claimant asked the carrier to provide this service. The carrier declined to do so, apparently because it believed that the operation could be performed less expensively in a Lancaster or Harrisburg hospital.*fn2 It referred Mr. Myers to another surgeon, whom he visited, but whose services he declined to accept for lack of confidence engendered by four unsuccessful operations performed by other local surgeons approved by the carrier.
By petition dated March 9, 1971, and received by the Workmen's Compensation Board on March 11, 1971, the claimant requested an order approving the services of Dr. Schmidt. Drs. Schmidt and Groff performed the fifth operation on the claimant's back on March 11, 1971 and were successful in accomplishing the needed spine fusion. The claimant testified that his condition was improved by the last operation and that as a result he has been able to attend high school and plans to
[ 14 Pa. Commw. Page 270]
attend college in preparation for a less physically demanding employment than his former ...