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Therapy Isn’t Covered for Wife of Injured Worker

DES MOINES, Iowa (CN) - A woman whose husband lost his arm on the job cannot use his workers' compensation to cover her therapy, an Iowa Court of Appeals ruled.

Craig Hoyt was badly hurt on the job while working for Wendling Quarries. After undergoing a left shoulder amputation, Hoyt has been treated for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and dementia.

Wendling agreed to cover Hoyt's counseling, but it refused in 2013 to authorize individual counseling for Hoyt's wife, Amy, who served as his primary caretaker.

Though the Workers' Compensation Commission authorized marital counseling for Hoyt and his wife, it emphasized that such counseling included both the injured worker, and was not individualized counseling for another."

The case went to the Iowa Court of Appeals after a judge in Polk County affirmed for Wendling.

"We conclude the plain language of the statute does not require the employer to pay for individualized counseling services for someone other than the injured employee even where such treatment may benefit the injured employee," Judge Christopher McDonald wrote for a three-judge panel Wednesday.

The Hoyts failed to have the court interpret the statute liberally.

"The obligation to interpret the workers' compensation law consistent with its legislative purpose does not give us leave to ignore the plain language of the statute," Judge McDonald wrote.

"The workers' compensation code is a creature of compromise," McDonald continued, "reflecting the legislature's determination of the proper allocation of rights and responsibilities between employees and employers with respect to work-related injuries. Fidelity to the text best honors the legislature's expressed policy determination."

The court also affirmed the distinction between individualized and marital counseling, calling the two "materially different."

"The statute may require payment for the former, but it clearly does not require payment for the latter," McDonald concluded.

Lurid Claims Against IA Doctor Only "Conjecture," Court Says

Lacey Louwagie

DES MOINES, Iowa (CN) - An Iowa anesthesiologist need not face civil claims from a patient who thought the worst when she came to, despite no evidence of hanky-panky, an appeals court ruled.

Dr. John Roe treated Jane Doe for a back injury from 2007 to 2010, according to the opinion, which does not give either party's real name. Doe said Roe offered to treat her in his office free of charge when his insurance company would no longer cover her pain injections.

Doe says none of Roe's staff were present on April 6, 2010, when she arrived for her appointment. Roe asked her to lie on her stomach so he could give the injection in her back.

In a complaint she filed against Roe in Pottawattamie County, Doe says she does not know what happened next, only that "when she came to, she was lying on her back, groggy, dazed and alone in the examination room."

She also noticed a sticky white substance on her face and neck, which Dr. Roe allegedly wiped off before sending her home in her disoriented condition.

Doe sued both Dr. Roe and his employer, Medical Anesthesia Associates, but the trial court granted them summary judgment.

Affirming that ruling Wednesday, the Iowa Court of Appeals noted that Doe's lawsuit was "based on conjecture, speculation and innuendo."

"We conclude there is no 'genuine' issue for trial," Judge Christopher McDonald wrote for the court. "Jane Doe conceded she does not recall any offensive contact before, during, or after the procedure. She had no reason to believe her clothes had been removed."

Emphasizing that "no reasonable person could find it offensive for a doctor to turn a patient over to a resting position following a procedure," McDonald also noted that the "white sticky substance" Doe mentioned was determined to be the anesthetic Licodaine, ejected from a syringe during the procedure.

McDonald concluded that the injection was "routine and performed on an outpatient basis," and that "Jane Doe's speculation and conjecture that something bad may have happened to her during this medical procedure is insufficient to survive summary judgment."

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