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Babu v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Temple Continuing Care Center)

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

September 15, 2014

Rachel Babu, Petitioner
v.
Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Temple Continuing Care Center), Respondent

Submitted July 18, 2014

Appealed from No. A12-1215. State Agency: Workers' Compensation Appeal Board.

Paul Auerbach, Merion, for petitioner.

Christopher R. Bridgman, Media, for respondent.

BEFORE: HONORABLE RENÉ E COHN JUBELIRER, Judge, HONORABLE ROBERT SIMPSON, Judge, HONORABLE JAMES GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 727

JAMES GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge

In accordance with the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act (Act),[1] Rachel Babu (Claimant) petitions for review of the January 30, 2014 order of the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Board) that affirmed the decision and order of Workers' Compensation Judge Scott Olin (WCJ), which had dismissed Claimant's petition seeking reimbursement of bills for Ayurvedic[2] therapy and treatment performed in India in 2008 and 2010. The issue of the compensability of Ayurvedic medical care is the sole remaining issue resulting from a Claim Petition filed by Claimant against Temple Continuing Care Center (Employer) following a June 8, 2008 work injury. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the order of the Board.

Claimant is a licensed Pennsylvania nurse.[3] Her litigation with Employer began fourteen years ago, when she sustained a work-related injury on February 28, 2000 in the course of transferring a heavy patient from a bed to a stretcher, and filed a claim petition that resulted in a 2006 award of indemnity benefits. Claimant appealed the 2006 award to the Board, and the Board remanded to allow the WCJ, inter alia, to make findings and credibility determinations regarding Ayurvedic medical treatment Claimant sought in 2001 for the February, 2000 work injury. Following hearings, the WCJ essentially affirmed its determination, and the Board affirmed. Claimant appealed, and in an unreported opinion hereinafter referred to as " Babu 2010," this Court affirmed the disallowance of her claim for this treatment, stating:

Services provided by non-licensed medical providers are compensable if they are provided under the supervision of or upon referral by a licensed practitioner. Boleratz v. Workers' Comp. Appeal Bd. (Airgas Inc.), 932 A.2d 1014 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2007). In addition, employers are only required to pay medical expenses that are causally related to the work injury. Iten v. Workers' Comp. Appeal Bd. (ABF Freight Sys., Inc.), 847 A.2d 814 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2004). The Ayurvedic treatment fails both of these requirements. There was no evidence that the treatment Babu underwent was pursuant to prescription or referral, and in fact, Babu's own expert said she

Page 728

would not prescribe it. In addition, the WCJ found that the bill did not sufficiently explain what procedures were done, making the determination of whether the treatment was work-related impossible. Because both of these defects are sufficient to deny reimbursement, the WCJ properly found the Ayurvedic treatment was not compensable.

Rachel Babu v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Temple Continuing Care), (Pa. Cmwlth., No. 1592 CD 2009, filed April 20, 2010).

As a result of the subsequent June 8, 2008 work injury, Claimant filed a Claim Petition on February 17, 2009 alleging injuries to her left shoulder, neck, left upper extremity, and right shoulder, seeking weekly indemnity and medical benefits; on March 29, 2012, the parties entered into a Compromise and Release Agreement that resolved, inter alia, a penalty petition, a reinstatement petition filed with reference to the prior work injury, and a termination petition filed by Employer. ...


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