B-152691, DEC. 3, 1963

B-152691: Dec 3, 1963

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THE VOUCHER IS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF A MEDICAL EXPENSE INCURRED JULY 9. THE METEOROLOGIST IN CHARGE OF THE DENVER AIRPORT STATION CALLED THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE AND WAS INFORMED THERE WAS ONLY A REMOTE POSSIBILITY OF PASSING THE DISEASE THROUGH NORMAL OFFICE AND WORKING CONTACTS. HE ALSO WAS INFORMED THAT IN VIEW OF THE VERY LOW CHANCE OF INFECTION AND THE COST OF THE IMMUNE GLOBULIN. MASS INOCULATION OF THE EMPLOYEES WAS NOT CONSIDERED ADVISABLE AND WOULD NOT BE UNDERTAKEN BY THE SERVICE. TISON AND FIVE OTHER EMPLOYEES WHO HAD WORKED IN CLOSE CONTACT WITH THE ILL EMPLOYEE CONSULTED THEIR FAMILY PHYSICIANS AND WERE INOCULATED AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE. TISON'S PHYSICIAN CERTIFIES "THAT THE GIVING OF GAMMA GLOBULIN IN A PERSON EXPOSED TO HEPATITIS IS NECESSARY AND GOOD PRACTICE.'.

B-152691, DEC. 3, 1963

TO MR. ERNEST W. VOGT, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, ADMINISTRATIVE OPERATIONS DIVISION, WEATHER BUREAU:

YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 24, 1963, RO3-3.2, FORWARDED HERE BY THE CHIEF OF FISCAL SECTION, ADMINISTRATIVE OPERATIONS DIVISION, UNITED STATES WEATHER BUREAU, REQUESTS OUR DECISION ON THE PROPRIETY OF CERTIFYING FOR PAYMENT A VOUCHER, IN THE AMOUNT OF $10, SUBMITTED BY ROBERT L. TISON, A METEOROLOGICAL TECHNICIAN WITH THE WEATHER BUREAU AIRPORT STATION AT DENVER, COLORADO. THE VOUCHER IS FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF A MEDICAL EXPENSE INCURRED JULY 9, 1963, BY MR. TISON FOR INOCULATION AGAINST HEPATITIS.

A FELLOW EMPLOYEE OF MR. TISON BECAME ILL WITH HEPATITIS. THE METEOROLOGIST IN CHARGE OF THE DENVER AIRPORT STATION CALLED THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE AND WAS INFORMED THERE WAS ONLY A REMOTE POSSIBILITY OF PASSING THE DISEASE THROUGH NORMAL OFFICE AND WORKING CONTACTS. HE ALSO WAS INFORMED THAT IN VIEW OF THE VERY LOW CHANCE OF INFECTION AND THE COST OF THE IMMUNE GLOBULIN, MASS INOCULATION OF THE EMPLOYEES WAS NOT CONSIDERED ADVISABLE AND WOULD NOT BE UNDERTAKEN BY THE SERVICE.

MR. TISON AND FIVE OTHER EMPLOYEES WHO HAD WORKED IN CLOSE CONTACT WITH THE ILL EMPLOYEE CONSULTED THEIR FAMILY PHYSICIANS AND WERE INOCULATED AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE. MR. TISON'S PHYSICIAN CERTIFIES "THAT THE GIVING OF GAMMA GLOBULIN IN A PERSON EXPOSED TO HEPATITIS IS NECESSARY AND GOOD PRACTICE.'

IN A DECISION OF MAY 24, 1944, 23 COMP. GEN. 888, WE HELD (QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS):

"THE PURCHASE OF DRUGS AND THEIR ADMINISTRATION BY A PRIVATE PHYSICIAN TO WEATHER BUREAU EMPLOYEES AS AN IMMEDIATE PREVENTIVE MEASURE AFTER THE EMPLOYEES WERE EXPOSED IN THE LINE OF DUTY TO SPINAL MENINGITIS, EPIDEMIC VARIETY, AND IN ORDER TO OBVIATE THE POSSIBILITY OF THE EMPLOYEES BEING QUARANTINED AND THE RESULTANT CLOSING OF THE STATION, MAY BE CONSIDERED AS HAVING BEEN NECESSARY FROM AN ADMINISTRATIVE STANDPOINT AND PRIMARILY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT, RATHER THAN THE EMPLOYEES, SO AS TO JUSTIFY PAYMENT OF THE EXPENSES THEREOF FROM THE BUREAU'S APPROPRIATION FOR SALARIES AND EXPENSES.'

UNLIKE THAT CASE, THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES HEREIN DO NOT CLEARLY PRESENT A SITUATION OF PREVENTIVE MEDICINE "NECESSARY FROM AN ADMINISTRATIVE STANDPOINT AND PRIMARILY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT RATHER THAN THE EMPLOYEE.' AND IN THE ABSENCE OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION AT THE DEPARTMENTAL LEVEL OF SUCH NECESSITY, PARTICULARLY IN VIEW OF THE DIVERGENT POSITIONS TAKEN BY THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE AND THE PRIVATE MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS, AND A FURTHER DETERMINATION THAT THE EXPENDITURE OF THE EMPLOYEE'S FUNDS WAS NECESSARY TO MEET THE URGENCY OF THE SITUATION (SEE 33 COMP. GEN. 20), WE ARE OF THE VIEW THE VOUCHER OF MR. TISON IS NOT FOR CERTIFICATION, THAT THE EXPENSE INVOLVED SHOULD BE CONSIDERED OF A PERSONAL AND NOT PUBLIC CHARACTER.