Pennsylvania: Massage Therapy By LPN Held to be Compensable Expense

A Pennsylvania appellate court, reversing a decision of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, recently held that since a licensed practical nurse (LPN) was a “health care provider” under § 109 (77 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 29) of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, massage therapy services performed by the LPN were reimbursable as medical expenses where massage therapy had been prescribed by claimant’s treating physician, where the LPN had specialized training in the field and held a certification–but not a license–to perform such therapy and where the employer failed to show that the services were not reasonable and necessary [see Moran v. Workers’ Comp. Appeal Bd. (Flowers), 2013 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 421 (Oct. 16, 2013)].

The court indicated that the employer’s reliance upon a prior case, Boleratz v. WCAB (Airgas, Inc.), 932 A.2d 1014 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2007), was misplaced. In Boleratz, the massage therapist was not a health care provider but was providing massage therapy at the direction of a doctor. The appellate court held in Boleratz that the therapist’s services were not reimbursable because the therapist was not licensed as a “health care provider” under the Act even though the massage therapy had been prescribed by a physician. While the employer’s expert asserted that massage therapy was not within the scope of an LPN’s duties, the expert did not cite any statute, case law, or regulation to support that claim. The court indicated that it was the employer’s burden to establish that it was not required to pay for the massage therapy services and it had failed to do so. Moreover, because the employer failed to address the merits of whether the treatment rendered by the LPN was reasonable and necessary, the employer could not prevail on that basis either.

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