April 18, 2015
Once injured workers have been deemed to have reached their maximum medical improvement (MMI), they will be granted an “impairment rating” by their doctors. This impairment rating, which may also be referred to as a disability rating, should reflect the level of irreversible physical damage sustained as a result of workplace injuries.
Given that impairment ratings are pivotal to determining the amount of benefits – and, specifically, permanent partial disability benefits – injured workers are ultimately awarded, it’s crucial that these workers:
- Get the appropriate impairment ratings
- Know when to dispute wrong/inappropriate impairment ratings.
In this blog series, we will point out some of the specific guiding principles that physicians should use when making impairment ratings, according to the Colorado Division of Workers’ Compensation (CDWC). While the discussion herein may be as informative and it is enlightening, however, remember that you can get experienced help resolving any workers’ comp issue by retaining trusted Denver Workers Compensation Lawyer Jennifer Bisset.
General Principles for Issuing Impairment Ratings, According to the CDWC
1 – Objective pathology
First and foremost, doctors should rely on a definitive diagnosis when making impairment ratings, the CDWC says. When a diagnosis does not fit the symptoms a worker has (maybe because the multiple symptoms could reflect multiple underlying conditions), the CDWC notes that doctors should determine:
- Whether separate diagnoses are appropriate for the given symptoms (in other words, whether two or more diagnoses may be necessary);
- Whether the additional diagnoses, if appropriate and necessary, are related to the work injury or accident; and, if so,
- Whether the additional diagnoses each warrant their own impairment rating(s).
2 – Range of motion measurements
When it comes to determining the level or extent of workers’ impairment(s), the CDWC explains that “only active range of motion measurements should be used to determine impairment.” This, in turn, can mean that, with range of motion tests, physicians should:
- Not help injured workers in any way when conducting these tests and trying to establish the limits of spinal/extremity range of motion
- Use “passive” range of motion measurements to evaluate the accuracy of active range of motion tests for the extremities.
For our continued discussion of the CDWC’s guidelines for doctors making impairment ratings for injured workers, be sure to check out the upcoming second part of this blog series. It will be published soon.
Denver Workers Compensation Lawyer at the Bisset Law Firm
Have you been injured at work? If so, Denver Workers Compensation Lawyer Jennifer Bisset wants you to know that she is here to aggressively advocate your rights and help you obtain the benefits you need and deserve. All of the experienced legal professionals at the Bisset Law Firm are dedicated to providing each of our clients with the highest quality legal representation, keeping them informed and in the loop at every stage of their cases and, ultimately, helping them obtain the benefits they need and deserve.
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Contact Denver Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Jennifer Bisset by calling (303) 894-8900 to learn more about your rights and receive a professional evaluation of your case. You can also email our firm using the contact form on the right side of this page.
From her office based in Denver, Jennifer Bisset provides superior legal services to injured people throughout Denver County and the state of Colorado.