State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, Stephen M. Morelli, Chairman
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CRB Case Annotations re: Section 31-294e

Medical care refusal.

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Full texts of opinions, statutes and court decisions should be consulted and all citations and references fully researched by the reader.

The Annotations to Compensation Review Board Opinions are presented “as is” and the Commission makes no warranties as to the suitability of this information for any given purpose.
Please note also that Annotations change periodically due to several factors including, but not limited to, Appellate and Supreme Court decisions issued in workers’ compensation cases.

Nails v. Freddie’s U.S. Mail, Inc., 5982 CRB-7-15-1 (December 8, 2015).

Claimant appealed from trial commissioner’s order that he undergo drug detoxification program or face suspension of benefits. Claimant argued trial commissioner failed to properly consider Acquarulo v. Botwinik Bros., Inc., 139 Conn. 684 (1953) and detoxification would be “cruel treatment”. Respondents argued record supported commissioner’s decision and claimant’s appeal was untimely, as he was aggrieved from an earlier order that he did not appeal. CRB affirmed trial commissioner on merits, citing Cervero v. Mory’s Association, Inc., 5357 CRB-3-08-6 (May 19, 2009), aff’d, 122 Conn. App. 82 (2010), cert. denied, 298 Conn. 908 (2010). See also, Nails, § 31-301 Appeal Procedure.

Stiber v. Marks Total Security, 5479 CRB- 4-09-07 (July 8, 2010).

Claimant was referred by treating physician to see other doctor to evaluate spinal fusion. Claimant missed two appointments and was rescheduling. Respondents filed Form 36 to suspend benefits. Trial commissioner noted respondents used incorrect form and denied relief on the merits after claimant’s counsel offered explanation. Respondents appealed to CRB. CRB upheld trial commissioner. Facts on record did not establish “refusal” to obtain medical treatment as a matter of law; respondents did not prove willful noncompliance. While commissioner erred in relying on statements of counsel, respondents did not object at the time. Statute permits more relaxed evidentiary standards before Commission, hence admission of such evidence was harmless error. See also, Stiber, § 31-298.

Bode v. Connecticut Mason Contractors, The Learning Corridor, 5423 CRB-3-09-2 (March 3, 2010), aff’d and rev’d in part, 130 Conn. App. 672 (2011), cert. denied, 302 Conn. 942 (2011).

Claimant appealed trier’s dismissal of claims for temporary total disability benefits and compensability of psychiatric disorder allegedly arising from fall in which claimant sustained compensable injuries to lumbar and cervical spine and right master arm. Claimant also appealed determination that he had “demonstrated an unwillingness” to proceed with shoulder surgery and contended trier utilized incorrect standard to assess probative value of medical reports relative to contemplated surgery. CRB affirmed, noting that medical record supported finding claimant had light-duty capacity and was devoid of a report linking claimed psychiatric disorder to compensable back injury. Medical record and testimony by Dr. Barnett supported finding that contemplated shoulder surgery was reasonable and claimant’s testimony at trial demonstrated his continued reluctance to follow through with surgery. Appellate Court affirmed trier’s dismissal of psychiatric claim but reversed dismissal of claim for temporary total disability benefits on basis that trier “summarily disregarded” claimant’s testimony and two vocational reports in reaching his determination that claimant was not temporarily totally disabled. Appellate Court also held that trier’s consideration of claimant’s alleged unwillingness to submit to shoulder surgery relative to his evaluation of claimant’s temporary total disability claim constituted a misapplication of law. See also, Bode, § 31-275 (1), § 31-275(16)(B)(ii), § 31-294e(b), § 31-301, Factual Findings. § 31-307.

Daddona v. Waterbury Masonry and Foundation, Inc., 4897 CRB-5-04-12 (December 8, 2005).

See, Daddona, § 31-301. Factual findings, § 31-307 and § 31-308(b).

Hallock v. Westport, 4829 CRB-4-04-7 (July 22, 2005), appeal dismissed, A.C. 26823 (September 26, 2005).

Claimant’s failure to heed advice of doctor to stop smoking and to have stress test performed prior to June 2002 heart attack did not constitute refusal of reasonable medical treatment. Claimant was not an injured employee within the meaning of the Act at the time said advice was given. Furthermore, it is questionable whether failure to follow such advice would amount to refusal of treatment under § 31-294e; most cases have focused on claimant’s refusal to obtain crucial surgery. See also, Hallock, § 31-294c, § 7-433c.

Kraemer v. Northeast Utilities, 4562 CRB-7-02-8 (July 29, 2003).

See, Kraemer, § 31-294f.

Pesce v. Mitchell Bate Company, 16 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 231, 3236 CRB-5-95-12 (June 23, 1997).

Claimant’s doctor told him that his failure to have back surgery could cause symptoms to worsen, but claimant continued to decline surgery despite increased back pain. Trier found treating physician’s recommendation medically reasonable, and declined to award total disability benefits and § 31-308a benefits. (Claimant also did not look for work.) Affirmed. See also, Pesce, § 31-301. Appeal procedure.

Barnett v. Harborview Manor, 3189 CRB-3-95-10 (February 27, 1997).

Reasonableness of a given treatment is an issue of fact, and was not addressed by trier. However, CRB noted that “refusal of medical treatment” cases have usually centered on the refusal of potentially crucial surgery. Here, the claimant declined to attend a pain clinic and receive pain injections. The findings did not indicate that the claimant’s doctor felt strongly about this treatment; instead, they say he “suggested” it as a course of action, and tried something else when she declined. Suspension of benefits not legally required here. See also, Barnett, § 31-307.

Gesualdi v. Natkin & Company, 12 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 250, 1493 CRB-6-92-8 (May 25, 1994).

Matter remanded where trier failed to make any factual findings as to whether claimant’s conduct and actions following a heart attack and admission into the hospital constituted refusal of reasonable medical treatment. Angioplasty surgery was recommended to claimant who then signed himself out of the hospital in order to obtain a second opinion and shortly thereafter suffered a second heart attack.

D’Anna v. Kimberly Clark Corporation, 12 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 194, 1580 CRB-7-92-12 (May 4, 1994).

Claimant failed to have left shoulder surgery recommended and scheduled by treating surgeon. CRB affirmed finding that claimant refused to accept reasonable medical care thereby trier’s suspension of compensation benefits warranted.

Camp v. White Oak Corporation, 12 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 121, 1443 CRB-6-92-6 (February 28, 1994).

Remanded. In determining that claimant’s refusal to undergo surgery was not unreasonable, the trier failed to consider surrounding circumstances for claimant’s refusal i.e. age, medical history, previous treatment, danger of procedure. Trier also failed to consider the reasonableness of the medical treatment available thereby misapplying statute’s provision as to the reasonableness of medical care. See also, Camp, § 31-308a. Additional Compensation.

Pagliarulo v. Bridgeport Machines, 6 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 69, 515 CRD-4-86 (December 2, 1988), error remand, 20 Conn. App. 154 (1989).

CRD affirmed trial commissioner’s ruling that claimant’s refusal of a third back surgery was not unreasonable where physician testified the surgery only had a 50% chance of significantly helping claimant. Note: Appellate Court held CRD applied wrong standard. Correct standard under § 31-294 is the reasonableness for the proposed surgical treatment itself not the reasonableness of the refusal.

Mignosa v. New Britain, 3 Conn. Workers’ Comp. Rev. Op. 75, 135 CRD-6-82 (October 8, 1986).

Claimant’s refusal to undergo surgery held not unreasonable.

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State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, Stephen M. Morelli, Chairman
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