April 22, 2015
Resuming 5 CDWC Guidelines for Making Impairment Ratings (Pt. 1), here, we will continue pointing out the main principles that doctors should rely on when making impairment ratings for injured workers, according to the Colorado Division of Workers’ Compensation (CDWC).
More CDWC Guidelines for Issuing Impairment Ratings
3 – AMA Definitions & Guidelines
Another pivotal guiding principle that physicians should use when making impairment ratings, according to the CDWC, is the definition of impairment from the American Medical Association (AMA, Guides 3rd Edition, rev.). Specifically, this definition is as follows:
An impairment is “the loss of, loss of use of, or derangement of any body part, system, or function.”
The CDWC has been careful to point out, however, that doctors should be especially careful when using the AMA’s definition/impairment guidelines for those who have recently undergone invasive treatment procedures (e.g., surgeries). This is because, as the CDWC notes, although a worker may initially fit the definition of impairment spelled out above due to having had surgery, there may not be a permanent impairment impacting the worker (due to the surgery/recovery).
So, the CDWC says that, in these cases, “it is incumbent on the rating physician to perform the necessary testing as appropriate in the Guides for the condition which was treated by the invasive procedure.” In other words, the condition/body part that the surgery was intended to treat should be the focus of the application of AMA guidelines (and not the fact that a surgery occurred).
4 – “Rounding” impairment ratings
Interestingly, the CDWC does not always agree with AMA Guides for impairment ratings. In fact, while the AMA suggests that doctors rounds impairment ratings to the nearest whole number ending in “0” or “5,” the CDWC instead recommends that doctors round impairment ratings:
- “Up or down to the nearest whole number when presenting the final rating”
- Up when the rating ends in “0.50.”
5 – Worksheets
Once an impairment rating has been issued, the CDWC explains that the physician should attach “all related worksheets to the narrative report,” which will be transmitted to the legally concerned parties (who will typically include the injured worker, the employers’ insurance company, the employer and the CDWC).
These worksheets and related documents should back up the doctor’s conclusions regarding the impairment rating issued, providing all of the necessary details explaining that the nature and severity of the injured worker’s permanent partial disability have been accurately and appropriately assessed.
Denver Workers Compensation Lawyer at the Bisset Law Firm
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