Refusal to detox from pain meds justifies suspension of benefits
Case name: Bereznicki v. Eat
?n' Park Hospitality Group, 24 PAWCLR 103 (Pa. W.C.A.B. 2009).
The Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Appeal Board affirmed the employer's petition to suspend compensation benefits.
What it means:
On a petition to suspend benefits, the employer must prove that the worker refused reasonable medical services. When deciding whether treatment is reasonable, the court will consider: 1) whether it is highly probable that the treatment will cure the claimant's health problem; and 2) whether it is highly probable that the treatment will enhance the worker's prospects for gainful and fulfilling employment.
Summary: The board concluded that the worker refused reasonable medical treatment for her injury. She had suffered a work-related, low-back strain. The board affirmed the determination that her treatment was no longer reasonable or necessary because she took narcotic medication for a long time without apparent benefits. It found that the worker would benefit from a detoxification program to wean her off the prescribed medications. The employer filed a suspension petition alleging that the worker refused to accept reasonable medical services. The board affirmed the suspension of benefits, finding that the proposed treatment would be beneficial for the worker.
The board indicated it was irrelevant that the detox would not specifically address her lower back condition. The purpose of the detox was to address the effects of medicine prescribed for the injury and, therefore, the detox was causally related. It found that the worker had refused reasonable medical treatment.
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August 6, 2009
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