Employer authorized to select second treating physician after first retired
Case name: Spencer v. Annett Holdings, Inc., No. 2-031/11-1032 (Iowa Ct. App. 03/28/12, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the Iowa Court of Appeals held that an employer had the right to choose an injured worker's treating physician after the retirement of his original authorized treating physician.
What it means: In Iowa, after the retirement of a worker's authorized treating physician, the employer is permitted to select another treating physician.
Summary: An injured worker's employer-selected treating physician retired and referred him to another doctor. The employer learned of the treating physician's retirement when it received a request for payment for services performed from the new doctor. The employer designated a different physician as the second authorized treating physician. The worker sought alternate care, contending that the referral from his original authorized treating physician became authorized care. The employer countered that it had the right to choose medical care upon the resignation of its treating physician. The Iowa Court of Appeals held that the employer had the right to choose the worker's care after the original treating physician's retirement.
The court explained that generally the employer is permitted to choose the medical care to be furnished to an injured worker. Also, an employer is not entitled to interfere with the medical judgment of its own treating physician, and the referral by an authorized physician to another practitioner generally does not require the employer's consent. If a worker seeks alternate care, he must show that the authorized care is unreasonable.
The court said that the original treating physician was not making a referral but "recommending his own replacement." The worker failed to prove that treatment by the second authorized treating physician was not reasonably suited to treat his injury or was unduly inconvenient.
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June 7, 2012
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