Can an Employer Force an Injured Worker to Have Surgery
Question: Can an Employer force an injured worker to have surgery or some other medical treatment?
Answer: The Employer can never force you to obtain medical treatment but in limited circumstances the Employer can stop your wage loss benefits if you refuse reasonable medical treatment.
The key question here is whether the treatment is reasonable, and Section 306(f.1)(8) 77 P.S. § 531(8), lays out the key factors in determining whether or not medical treatment is reasonable. The courts have considered:
(1) whether it is highly probable that the medical treatment will cure the problem, and
(2) whether it is highly probable that the medical treatment will enhance the employee’s prospects for gainful, fulfilling employment.
Further, the courts have also held that the employer has a burden to establish that the treatment was reasonable at the date of the physician’s deposition. Finally, it has also been held that the reasonableness of an employee’s refusal to undergo treatment is relevant in determining whether or not the surgery would be reasonable. The reasonableness of the refusal is to be determined on a case by case basis. Also, there is case law that supports that when an insurer cancels the proposed medical procedure prior to its scheduled date, the employee cannot be found to have refused the treatment and its benefits cannot be suspended. Vitech Corporation v. WCAB Rozanc, 854 A. 2d 481 (PA 2004).
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