Case name: Millenkamp v. Millenkamp Cattle, Inc., No. 3-047/11-2068 (Iowa Ct. App. 04/10/13).
Ruling: The Iowa Court of Appeals denied the alternate medical care a worker requested.
What it means: In Iowa, an employer has the obligation to provide and the right to choose the medical care an injured worker receives for his compensable injuries, but the worker can receive alternate medical care if the care authorized by the employer is unreasonable.
Summary: A worker suffered a traumatic brain injury while working. His employer accepted liability. The worker was treated by a neurologist until he retired. The employer was not informed of the neurologist's retirement. The worker continued to receive his medication from his primary care physician. When the medication was no longer effective, he asked his physician for a referral to another neurologist. The employer paid for the initial prescription written by the second neurologist, then advised the worker that he was not an authorized treating physician and that future care would be handled by another doctor. The worker sought to have the second neurologist designated as the authorized treating physician. The Iowa Court of Appeals denied the alternate medical care the worker requested.
The court explained that while an employer has the obligation to provide and the right to choose the medical care an injured worker receives for his compensable injuries, the worker has the right to request alternate medical care if he is dissatisfied with the care being offered. The worker had to show that the care authorized by the employer was unreasonable. Although the worker argued that the employer lost the ability to change his medical care due to four years of "indifference, inattentiveness, and inactivity," the court found that the employer did not abandon his care. The employer continued to authorize prescriptions until the worker sought a referral to the second neurologist without consulting the employer. The court said that after the first neurologist retired, the worker should have contacted the employer for a referral instead of seeking one on his own.
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July 22, 2013
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