A-55900, JUNE 13, 1934, 13 COMP. GEN. 432

A-55900: Jun 13, 1934

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1934: THERE IS BEFORE THIS OFFICE FOR CONSIDERATION A CHARGE OF $33 AGAINST JOHN K. BECAME ILL AND WAS SENT TO GORGAS HOSPITAL FOR TREATMENT. HE WAS FURNISHED WITH A PRIVATE ROOM WITHOUT BATH WHILE UNDERGOING TREATMENT. THAT A PRIVATE ROOM WAS NOT NECESSARY FOR MEDICAL REASONS. WAS FURNISHED THE PATIENT UPON HIS REQUEST AND WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT CHARGES THEREFOR WOULD BE PAID BY HIM. FLICK CONTENDS THAT HIS DISABILITY WAS INCURRED IN LINE OF DUTY. HE WAS ENTITLED TO FREE MEDICAL TREATMENT AND HOSPITALIZATION AT GORGAS HOSPITAL. HOSPITALS OF THE UNITED STATES ARE NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT. WHERE THIS IS NOT PRACTICABLE SHALL BE FURNISHED BY PRIVATE PHYSICIANS AND HOSPITALS DESIGNATED OR APPROVED BY THE COMMISSION AND PAID FOR FROM THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION FUND.

A-55900, JUNE 13, 1934, 13 COMP. GEN. 432

MEDICAL TREATMENT - USE OF PRIVATE ROOM IN HOSPITAL BY EMPLOYEE THE "REASONABLE MEDICAL, SURGICAL, AND HOSPITAL SERVICES" ALLOWED BY SECTION 9 OF THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 7, 1916, 39 STAT. 742, FOR AN INJURY (DISEASE) SUSTAINED BY AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT WHILE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTY, DO NOT ENTITLE SUCH PATIENT TO A PRIVATE ROOM IN A HOSPITAL AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE WHERE ORDERED BY THE PATIENT AND HE AGREED TO PAY THEREFOR, AND THE HOSPITAL EVIDENCE SHOWED NATURE OF DISEASE OR MALADY DID NOT REQUIRE ISOLATION OR USE OF A PRIVATE ROOM.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, JUNE 13, 1934:

THERE IS BEFORE THIS OFFICE FOR CONSIDERATION A CHARGE OF $33 AGAINST JOHN K. FLICK OF THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FOR A PRIVATE ROOM FURNISHED HIM AT HIS REQUEST WHILE UNDERGOING TREATMENT AT THE GORGAS HOSPITAL, CANAL ZONE, FROM APRIL 25, TO MAY 16, 1932, AT A RATE OF $1.50 PER DAY.

THE FACTS AS DISCLOSED BY THE RECORD SHOW THAT IN THE EARLY PART OF 1932 MR. FLICK, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE INTER-AMERICAN HIGHWAY RECONNAISSANCE SURVEYS, BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, ON DUTY IN PANAMA, BECAME ILL AND WAS SENT TO GORGAS HOSPITAL FOR TREATMENT. HIS OWN WRITTEN REQUEST UNDER DATE OF APRIL 25, 1932, HE WAS FURNISHED WITH A PRIVATE ROOM WITHOUT BATH WHILE UNDERGOING TREATMENT. IT APPEARS FROM THE RECORD THAT THE HOSPITAL MADE NO CHARGE FOR THE MEDICAL CARE AND TREATMENT OF MR. FLICK WHILE A PATIENT THERE, THE ONLY CHARGE ASSERTED BY THE PANAMA CANAL AUTHORITIES BEING FOR THE PRIVATE ROOM OCCUPIED BY MR. FLICK AT HIS REQUEST, IT BEING STATED BY THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE HOSPITAL IN LETTER OF OCTOBER 4, 1933, THAT A PRIVATE ROOM WAS NOT NECESSARY FOR MEDICAL REASONS, AND WAS FURNISHED THE PATIENT UPON HIS REQUEST AND WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT CHARGES THEREFOR WOULD BE PAID BY HIM.

MR. FLICK CONTENDS THAT HIS DISABILITY WAS INCURRED IN LINE OF DUTY, AND THAT, THEREFORE, HE WAS ENTITLED TO FREE MEDICAL TREATMENT AND HOSPITALIZATION AT GORGAS HOSPITAL. THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION COMMISSION AND THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS APPEAR TO BE ON RECORD TO THE SAME EFFECT AS SHOWN BY LETTERS OF SEPTEMBER 26, 1933, AND AUGUST 31, 1933, RESPECTIVELY, REFERENCE BEING MADE TO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 9 OF THE ACT OF SEPTEMBER 7, 1916, 39 STAT. 742, AND THE DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE HOLDING THAT FOR SUCH MEDICAL, SURGICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICES TO WHICH AN EMPLOYEE MAY BE ENTITLED UNDER SECTION 9, HOSPITALS OF THE UNITED STATES ARE NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT.

SECTION 9 OF THE ACT OF 1916 PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

THAT IMMEDIATELY AFTER AN INJURY SUSTAINED BY AN EMPLOYEE WHILE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTY, WHETHER OR NOT DISABILITY HAS ARISEN, AND FOR A REASONABLE TIME THEREAFTER, THE UNITED STATES SHALL FURNISH TO SUCH EMPLOYEE REASONABLE MEDICAL, SURGICAL, AND HOSPITAL SERVICES AND SUPPLIES UNLESS HE REFUSES TO ACCEPT THEM. SUCH SERVICES AND SUPPLIES SHALL BE FURNISHED BY UNITED STATES MEDICAL OFFICERS AND HOSPITALS, BUT WHERE THIS IS NOT PRACTICABLE SHALL BE FURNISHED BY PRIVATE PHYSICIANS AND HOSPITALS DESIGNATED OR APPROVED BY THE COMMISSION AND PAID FOR FROM THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION FUND. IF NECESSARY FOR THE SECURING OF PROPER MEDICAL, SURGICAL, AND HOSPITAL TREATMENT, THE EMPLOYEE, IN THE DISCRETION OF THE COMMISSION, MAY BE FURNISHED TRANSPORTATION AT THE EXPENSE OF THE EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION FUND.

THE SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF THIS LAW ARE THAT FOR A DISABILITY INCURRED IN LINE OF DUTY AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS ENTITLED TO "REASONABLE MEDICAL, SURGICAL, AND HOSPITAL SERVICES.'

THE TERM "REASONABLE" AS USED IN THIS LAW MUST BE CONSTRUED WITH RESPECT TO THE NATURE OF THE INJURY OR MALADY, AND IN THE PRESENT CASE WHETHER FROM A MEDICAL FINDING THE CONDITION OF THE PATIENT WAS SUCH AS TO REQUIRE ISOLATION OR THE USE OF A PRIVATE ROOM. SINCE IT APPEARS FROM THE RECORD THAT THE OCCUPANCY OF THE PRIVATE ROOM WAS NOT NECESSARY FOR MEDICAL REASONS THE USE OF SUCH ROOM MUST BE CONSIDERED AS NOT COVERED BY THE TERM "REASONABLE HOSPITAL SERVICES" AS CONTEMPLATED BY THE LAW, SUPRA. AND SINCE THE FURNISHING OF SUCH ROOM BY THE HOSPITAL WAS AT THE SPECIFIC REQUEST OF THE EMPLOYEE, THE CHARGE THEREFOR MUST BE CONSIDERED AS A PERSONAL OBLIGATION OF SUCH EMPLOYEE, AND NOT A SERVICE WHICH THE HOSPITAL WAS REQUIRED TO FURNISH FREE OF CHARGE UNDER SECTION 9 OF THE ACT OF 1916.

THE MATTER IS BROUGHT TO YOUR ATTENTION FOR THE TAKING OF SUCH ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION AS MAY BE FOUND NECESSARY, EITHER IN REQUIRING REMITTANCE TO THIS OFFICE BY THE EMPLOYEE OR IN EFFECTING THE NECESSARY DEDUCTION FROM HIS PAY OF THE AMOUNT IN QUESTION.

A COPY OF THIS DECISION HAS BEEN SENT TO THE ASSISTANT AUDITOR OF THE PANAMA CANAL FOR HIS INFORMATION.