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Petrilla v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board

692 A.2d 623 (1997)

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Petrilla v. Workmen’s Compensation Appeal Board

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court

692 A.2d 623 (1997)

Facts

Robert Petrilla (plaintiff) sustained a work-related injury while employed by People’s Natural Gas Company (company). As a result of the injury, Petrilla became a paraplegic and was confined to a wheelchair. Petrilla also suffered from bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome and rotator cuff syndrome in one shoulder, both caused by the workplace injury. Petrilla required daily in-home nursing care, which was usually provided by his wife. The facility where Petrilla was treated also trained his wife to tend to Petrilla’s needs while he convalesced, including catheterization, getting in and out of bed, and turning Petrilla in his bed to avoid skin problems. Petrilla’s wife provided this care without supervision by a physician or any other licensed healthcare practitioner. Over time, Petrilla became unable to transport himself in a standard automobile with modified controls, and his physician prepared a prescription for a type of van that would allow him to travel in his wheelchair. Petrilla sought an order requiring the company to furnish the specialized van and to compensate Petrilla’s wife for the value of the home care she provided. The company was willing to cover the cost of modifying a van to accommodate Petrilla’s needs but argued that it was not obliged to pay for the vehicle itself. The company also argued that the services furnished by Petrilla’s wife were not compensable because they were not provided by or under the supervision of a licensed practitioner. The workers’-compensation judge agreed with the company, and the Workmen’s Compensation Appeal Board (board) (defendant) affirmed. Petrilla appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Doyle, J.)

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