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Ayurvedic treatment in India not eligible for workers comp in Pennsylvania: Court

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The Ayurvedic treatment a Pennsylvania nurse received in India is not eligible for workers compensation benefits, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Rachel Babu, a licensed Pennsylvania nurse at Temple Continuing Care Center in Philadelphia, was injured while transferring a heavy patient from a bed to a stretcher in 2000, according to court records. She filed a workers compensation claim and was awarded indemnity benefits in 2006, records show.

She then appealed to the state’s Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board seeking reimbursement for her 2001 Ayurvedic treatment, a form of complementary and alternative medicine, records show. A workers comp judge ruled that the treatment was not compensable and the board agreed.

Ms. Babu injured her shoulders and neck while working at Temple Continuing Care Center again in 2008. She received Ayurvedic treatment at a center in India later that year and in 2010, records show.

She filed a claim petition in 2009 seeking weekly indemnity and medical benefits, and in March 2012 entered into a compromise and release agreement with Temple, according to records, which don’t specify the terms of the agreement.

However, records show that Ms. Babu’s 2009 petition remained open while a workers comp judge determined whether her Ayurvedic treatment was compensable. However, the workers comp judge and the board dismissed Ms. Babu’s petition in August 2012, on the grounds that the providers of her Ayurvedic treatment were not licensed providers in Pennsylvania.

“In addition, employers are only required to pay medical expenses that are causally related to the work injury,” according to records. “The Ayurvedic treatment fails both of these requirements. There was no evidence that the treatment Babu underwent was pursuant to prescription or referral, and in fact, Babu’s own expert said she would not prescribe it.”

Ms. Babu appealed to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, which affirmed the board’s decision Monday.

“(Ms. Babu) was fully aware that (Temple) contested the compensability of Ayurvedic treatment, and acknowledged, under the terms of the Compromise and Release Agreement, that the treatment was under dispute,” the ruling states.