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Workmen's compensation. Before Judge Edmondson, presiding. Monroe Superior Court. October 7, 1953.
The award of the Board of Workmen's Compensation, holding that the refusal of the claimant to submit to a myleogram (which consists of the penetration by a needle of living tissue in the spinal canal and injection of iodine containing oil which casts a shadow on X-ray, then tilting the patient and obtaining pictures with the needle in place, and then withdrawing the oil and removing the needle) does not bar the claimant from receiving further compensation, was authorized by the evidence as applied to Code (Ann. Supp.) 114-501 and Code 114-503. The judgment of the superior court affirming the award is without error.
This workmen's compensation case involves an appeal of the employer, Colonial Stores, Inc., and its insurance carrier from a judgment of the Superior Court of Monroe County affirming the judgment of the State Board of Workmen's Compensation denying a petition of the employer that the claimant be ordered to submit to a myleogram examination and, on her failure to do so, that compensation payments under a previous award cease. The evidence on this hearing consisted of the deposition of a doctor employed by the employer, to the effect that a myleogram is a procedure to help determine the existence of spinal disc lesion; that it consists of making a spinal puncture and placing within the spinal canal an iodine containing oil, which casts a shadow on X-ray, tilting the patient and obtaining X-ray pictures with the needle in place, and then withdrawing the oil and removing the needle; that some people have headaches and backaches for a week or ten days following the myleogram but many do not; that the procedure is not 100% accurate, but does pick up at least 70% of the disc lesions, including any massive ones; that it was possible the claimant had a disc lesion, but the witness would not, in view of the claimant's "mental overlay," recommend operation until he had seen the results of a myleogram. The deputy director hearing the evidence noted that on a previous hearing in this case on change of condition, three doctors had offered testimony but none had recommended the procedure here sought, or any other surgical operation, and the director found as a matter of fact that the claimant was justified in refusing the myleogram. This finding was affirmed in turn by the Board of Workmen's Compensation and the judge of the superior court. The assignment of error here is on the latter judgment.
Code 114-503 provides in part as follows: "If the employee refuses to submit himself to or in any way obstructs such examination requested by and provided for by the employer, his right to compensation . . . shall be suspended." Code (Ann. Supp.) 114-501 provides in part: "The refusal of the employee to accept any medical, hospital, surgical or other treatment when ordered by the Industrial Board shall bar said employee from further compensation until such refusal ceases." Refusal to submit to surgery will not bar the claimant from benefits under the act unless the surgery has been ordered by the board. City of Atlanta v. Padgett, 68 Ga. App. 96 (1) (22 S. E. 2d 197). The board has jurisdiction to determine whether a refusal of medical services is justified. Zant v. United States Fidelity &c. Co., 40 Ga. App. 38 (1) (148 S. E. 764); Bituminous Casualty Co. v. Dyer, 62 Ga. App. 279 (2) (7 S. E. 2d 415). Surgery, as defined by Webster's International Dictionary, is that branch of medical science concerned with the correction of deformities, repair of injuries, diagnosis and cure of disease, relief of suffering, and prolongation of life by manual and instrumental operations. See 70 C. J. S., Physicians and Surgeons, 1, p. 804 et seq. An examination of the type here sought, which involves the penetration of living tissue, is much closer to a surgical operation than a simple physical examination, many of Which the claimant had submitted to in the past.
Under the above authority, the claimant, upon refusing the myelogram, would not be automatically barred from receiving further compensation, and there was sufficient evidence before the board-including the fact that the claimant had submitted to all other medical examinations and treatments suggested, that other doctors, at a previous hearing, had not recommended this procedure, that the test was not 100% accurate and was in some cases attended by after effects of a painful nature--to support the award finding that the claimant should not be compelled to submit to this procedure.
The judge of the superior court did not err in affirming the award of the Board of Workmen's Compensation.
Judgment affirmed. Gardner, P. J., and Carlisle, J., concur.
T. Elton Drake, John M. Williams, contra.
Marvin G. Russell, Turner Paschall, for plaintiff in error.
Saturday May 23 03:38 EDT

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