This is an appeal by petitioner John Benson from that portion of a judgment of the Compensation Division finding that medical treatment rendered to him by Dr. M. W. Weinstein and by the Irvington General Hospital was unauthorized medical treatment under N.J.S.A. 34:15-15 and denying his claim for reimbursement from respondent employer for the expenses resulting from that unauthorized treatment.
In his claim petitioner alleges that "he fell from tank truck" and injured his "neck, head, back and nervous system"; that medical aid was required and his employer failed
to furnish it when requested to do so, and that respondent "failed to furnish to the injured workman such medical * * * treatment and hospital service as shall be necessary to cure and relieve the workman of the effects of the injury and to restore the function of the injured member or organ where such restoration is possible * * *," N.J.S.A. 34:15-15.
It is admitted that on July 24, 1969 petitioner suffered a compensable injury when he fell from the side of a tank truck he was unloading and struck the ground some five to six feet below, his head, shoulder and back striking the ground first. He was not unconscious and got up without assistance and reported the accident to his supervisor, made out an accident report, and thereafter was driven by his foreman to the Cahill Clinic for medical treatment.
Petitioner testified that when he arrived at the clinic, his complaints were as follows: "I had a terrible pain in my neck, my head and my upper back * * * my head was leaning to the left of my shoulder. I couldn't straighten it out. I couldn't even my body out."
At the clinic Dr. Daniel DeLuca, the treating physician, made a physical examination and took X-rays of petitioner's head, neck and back. The X-rays proved to be negative for fracture and dislocation. He "found [petitioner] to be suffering contusions-muscle spasm of the left cervical region and contusion of the left shoulder girdle." He testified that a man with this condition would usually be treated with diathermy, heat treatment, muscle relaxants and pain killers. He was prepared at the time to give this treatment but that treatment and medication were promptly refused. Petitioner did not return for treatment thereafter, as he had been requested to do. In Dr. De Luca's medical opinion, petitioner did not require hospitalization at the time he saw him.
Petitioner testified that he was offered heat treatment and told to return the following day for additional heat treatment, but was not offered any medication or a prescription
for medication. However, the uncontroverted evidence, substantiated by petitioner's own testimony, establishes that he did not give Dr. DeLuca the opportunity to provide him with any treatment of any kind, nor did he tell the doctor that he thought he needed medical attention other than heat treatment. Instead, petitioner conveyed his feelings to a technician at the clinic, who informed him that the clinic could not authorize his going to another doctor, but could not stop him either.
Later that afternoon petitioner consulted and was examined by Dr. M. W. Weinstein, an orthopedic surgeon, who made the following diagnosis: (1) cerebral concussion; (2) spasm of the cervical spine with possible fracture; (3) contusion of the thoracic spine; (4) sprain of the lumbar spine, and (5) radiculitis affecting his lower left extremity.
Dr. Weinstein's conclusion, opinion and recommendation were that petitioner should be hospitalized and treated in cervical traction on a bed-board, and he should have medication for relief of pain, spasm and sleeplessness. It was his opinion that in all medical probabilty the necessary treatment, the best and most efficient ...