Colorado accredited workers compensation laws are designed to protect an injured employee in the event of a work-related injury. The laws were established to provide medical treatment and compensation to an employee for lost wages and disability resulting from an occupational injury.
An impairment rating is necessary once it has been determined that an injured worker is at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). Only Level II Accredited physicians can perform impairment ratings. MMI occurs when a condition has stabilized and further functional improvement is unlikely, despite continued medical treatment or physical rehabilitation. When a worker who is receiving workers’ compensation benefits reaches maximum medical improvement, his or her condition is assessed and a degree of permanent or partial impairment is determined. This degree will impact the amount of benefits the worker is able to receive.
An injured worker’s authorized treating physician (ATP) makes the determination when MMI has been reached. Once MMI determination has been made, Dr. Tracy can then conclude if the worker has sustained permanent impairment, and, if so, how much. This is expressed in terms of a percentage rating, using the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (Third Edition-Revised) which is required when rating Colorado injured workers.
Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs)
Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs) are used by insurance companies, attorneys and others involved in managing workers’ compensation, personal injury and disability cases. IMEs are performed by a physician not previously involved in a person’s care. There is no doctor-patient relationship established. Independent Medical Evaluations (IMEs) are often required to answer specific medical questions, including relationships of diagnosis to specific injury, accident or illness, further treatment recommendations, extent of permanent impairment or disability, and other information as needed.
Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE)
A Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) is a comprehensive assessment of an individual’s functional abilities. The information obtained from an FCE helps to determine an individual’s ability to perform meaningful tasks on a safe and responsible basis. An occupational therapist or physical therapist usually performs the functional capacity testing, which can take anywhere from two to eight hours to complete. The length of testing time depends on the severity of the injury, the job responsibilities and functional abilities of the person being tested. FCEs are crucial for accredited workers compensation claims. A comparison of an injured worker’s abilities to a job’s demands is made in an attempt to diminish the risk of re-injury, as well as to determine the presence and degree of any disability.