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CASE NO. 1960 CRB-1-94-1
COMPENSATION REVIEW BOARD
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION
SEPTEMBER 6, 1995
UTC/PRATT & WHITNEY
LIBERTY MUTUAL INS. CO.
The claimant was represented by Neil Johnson, Esq., 250 Hudson St., Hartford, CT 06106.
The respondents were represented by Debra S. Dee, Esq., Law Offices of Nancy S. Rosenbaum, 655 Winding Brook Drive, P. O. Box 695, Glastonbury, CT 06033.
This Petition for Review from the January 14, 1994 Finding and Award of the Commissioner acting for the First District was heard January 13, 1995 before a Compensation Review Board panel consisting of the Commission Chairman Jesse M. Frankl and Commissioners Roberta S. D’Oyen and Amado J. Vargas.
JESSE M. FRANKL, CHAIRMAN. The claimant has petitioned for review from the January 14, 1994 Finding and Award of the Commissioner for the First District. On appeal, the claimant contends that the commissioner did not have jurisdiction to decide that no further treatment would be necessary for the claimant in light of the issue properly before him at the formal hearing, and that his findings are not supported by the evidence. We affirm the trial commissioner’s decision.
The claimant suffered a back injury on November 3, 1989, for which a voluntary agreement was approved on December 10, 1981 establishing five percent permanent partial disability of the back. An additional five percent permanent partial disability was later recognized as well. The claimant has also suffered from stomach cancer since 1983. On November 10, 1993 notice was sent to the parties that a formal hearing would be held on December 6, 1993 regarding the authorization of prescription bills.
At the hearing, the claimant introduced prescription bills for various medications covering the period from December 7, 1982 to June 24, 1993. The commissioner also noted the medical reports of three orthopedists who had treated the claimant, each stating that further orthopedic treatment would not benefit the claimant. One orthopedist, Dr. Fisher, wrote that he would prefer that the claimant obtain additional medications from his family doctor. Another orthopedist, Dr. Yannopoulos, noted the claimant’s history of stomach cancer, hypertension, and peripheral vascular disease, and found that the claimant’s complaints were largely subjective and mild by objective standards. The commissioner found that based on those reports, “no medical, surgical, chiropractic, drug or physical therapy undertaken by the Claimant after April 16, 1993, is reasonable or necessary for the injury of November 3, 1979.” The claimant has appealed that decision.
The claimant first argues that the formal hearing before the commissioner was scheduled solely to discuss the authorization of payment of prescription bills, leaving the commissioner without jurisdiction to address the issue of further treatment. He cites Cummings v. Twin Tool Mfg. Co., 12 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 341, 1542 CRB-1-92-10 (July 11, 1994) in support of his argument. There, the claimant’s entitlement to temporary total disability benefits after December, 1991 was the issue before the trial commissioner. The commissioner made additional findings, however, regarding the claimant’s failure to prove his continuing need for medical treatment was related to his compensable injury. We held that the commissioner’s findings and conclusions on that subject had to be vacated, as the issue of continuing medical treatment was not properly before her. Id., 343. The key factor in that decision was the lack of an opportunity for the claimant to present evidence on the issue decided by the commissioner. See Davis v. New London Board of Education, 11 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 245, 247, 1346 CRD-2-91-11 (Nov. 10, 1993).
In this case, however, the issue before the commissioner was the authorization of payment for prescription bills through June 24, 1993. As a consequence, the medical reports of the three orthopedists who were treating the claimant for his back surgery were properly in evidence to assist the commissioner in deciding whether the need for prescription drugs flowed from the claimant’s compensable injury. The relation of medical treatment to a particular injury is obviously of utmost importance in determining whether compensation for such treatment is warranted.
After considering the medical reports in this case, the commissioner concluded not only that drug therapy after April 16, 1993 should not be authorized, but that other types of treatment should not be authorized as well. Although this finding went slightly beyond the scope of the issue described in the notice of hearing, the factual issues surrounding authorization of prescription drug payments are substantially the same as those surrounding the authorization of further medical treatment. The medical reports of the orthopedists cited by the commissioner spoke not only to the claimant’s need for prescription drugs, but his overall need for further treatment as well. The reports also related to the same time frame put in issue by the claimant regarding payment of prescriptions. Therefore, we do not think it was beyond the scope of the commissioner’s jurisdiction to conclude from those reports that none of the therapy undertaken by the claimant after April 16, 1993 was reasonable and necessary. We also note that the claimant is free to request another hearing should he experience further orthopedic problems in the future.
The claimant also argues that the commissioner’s conclusion relating to the claimant’s need for medical prescriptions is not supported by the evidence. We disagree. Dr. Selden opined that further treatment would not be curative, and at best palliative; Dr. Fisher stated that he had “nothing further to offer” the claimant, and that he did not wish to continue prescribing medication for him; and Dr. Yannopoulos opined that the claimant did not need to be on any of the prescription drugs at issue here for a condition that had been present for 14 years, and that he had been overmedicated in the past with respect to both the quantity and length of his prescription drug use. These reports constitute sufficient evidence to support the commissioner’s conclusion that further medication was not reasonable treatment for the claimant’s back injury, and it is beyond the scope of our review to question that decision here. Webb v. Pfizer, Inc., 1859 CRB-5-93-9 (decided May 12, 1995).
We affirm the trial commissioner’s decision.
Commissioners Roberta S. D’Oyen and Amado J. Vargas concur.
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