Q: An employer/insurance carrier has the right to choose the care that an injured worker receives for an on the job injury. Does this include the right to say what treatment a doctor may give if they disagree with the course of care recommended?

A: When an employee has an injury which is covered by the Iowa workers' compensation laws, the employer is to provide prompt care, without undue inconvenience to the employee, reasonably suited to treat the employee's injury, and the employer has the right to choose that care. The employer does not, however, have the right to direct the care provided by an authorized doctor, and cannot doctor shop, or change authorized doctors without a specific reason. Also, any other doctor the authorized doctor sends the worker to is, also, considered authorized.

Where the doctor is recommending care which is experimental, or not generally accepted in the professional community, either party may have sufficient reason to change doctors. You should consult your attorney, or insurance representative before making the change.

If the employee is dissatisfied with the care offered, the employee should discuss the problem with the employer/insurance carrier, and may wish to request alternate care. If agreement cannot be reached, the employee may apply to the Workers Compensation Commissioner for approval of other care.

Note, also, that if the employer/insurance carrier, denies liability for the injury being treated, they no longer have the right to direct care, and that, even if liability has not been denied, in an emergency, the employee may be free to choose a doctor if the employer or their representative cannot be reached.

If you have questions regarding what care must be provided or how to designate care, you should consult an attorney or, your insurance representative.