Iowa Workers' Comp Attorney Files Petition for Alternate Medical Care and Succeeds

Barge on the Missisippi

John Abitz worked for Newt Marine Service in Dubuque, Iowa. He injured his right shoulder in 2013 and 2014. He was provided a doctor through Newt Marine's insurance company chosen by the company. He had surgery on his shoulder in 2014. In 2015 his doctor restricted him from lifting more than seventy-five pounds and stated that at this point it was a “permanent” restriction.  However, the “Patient Visit Record” by the doctor for that appointment states that Abitz is doing well with little pain or weakness and there is no reason to do an MRI. He also indicated that the weight restriction could be lifted in a month or so and that Abitz had reached maximum medical improvement with his shoulder.  Abitz had been approved for physical therapy, but his doctor claimed that therapy was no longer helping Abitz and canceled his remaining appointments.  

Abitz denies his doctor's findings.  He testified that he continues to experience chronic and increasing pain, as well as losing much of his arm strength.  His sleep is also disrupted due to pain.  Abitz said he could not lift seventy-five pounds as the doctor reported. He said he told his doctor that he still had pain and weakness. A week after this appointment the doctor gave a written statement that Abitz did not have any permanent restrictions. The doctor also lifted the weight restriction he had placed a week earlier. He assigned Abitz a three-percent permanent impairment to his upper extremity. The doctor felt he had reached maximum medical improvement and offered Abitz no further care.

A Petition Is Filed

Not satisfied with his medical treatment from the doctor, Abitz and his attorney filed a petition for alternate medical care. The Workers' Compensation Commissioner decided in favor of Abitz stating that Newt Marine failed to provide medical treatment reasonably suited to fully treat his work injuries. New Marine appeals.

The decision of the appeal was in favor of Abitz. The ruling was based on the effectiveness of the medical care. Abitz is without further treatment options through Newt Marine so it is justified that he can receive alternate medical care with a doctor that Abitz can choose himself.


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