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§ 130.1. Certification of Maximum Medical Improvement and Evaluation of Permanent Impairment

(a) Authorized Doctor.

(1) Only an authorized doctor may certify maximum medical improvement (MMI), determine whether there is permanent impairment, and assign an impairment rating if there is permanent impairment.

(A) Doctors serving in the following roles may be authorized as provided in subsection (a)(1)(B) of this section.

(i) the treating doctor (or a doctor to whom the treating doctor has referred the injured employee for evaluation of MMI and/or permanent whole body impairment in the place of the treating doctor, in which case the treating doctor is not authorized);

(ii) a designated doctor; or

(iii) a required medical examination (RME) doctor selected by the insurance carrier and approved by the division to evaluate MMI and/or permanent whole body impairment after a designated doctor has performed such an evaluation.

(B) Prior to September 1, 2003 a doctor serving in one of the roles described in subsection (a)(1)(A) of this subsection is authorized to determine whether an injured employee has permanent impairment, assign an impairment rating, and certify MMI. On or after September 1, 2003, a doctor serving in one of the roles described in subsection (a)(1)(A) of this section is authorized as follows:

(i) a doctor whom the division has certified to assign impairment ratings or otherwise given specific permission by exception to, is authorized to determine whether an injured employee has permanent impairment, assign an impairment rating, and certify MMI; and

(ii) a doctor whom the division has not certified to assign impairment ratings or otherwise given specific permission by exception to is only authorized to determine whether an injured employee has permanent impairment and, in the event that the injured employee has no impairment, certify MMI.

(2) Doctors who are not authorized shall not make findings of permanent impairment, certify MMI, or assign impairment ratings and shall not be reimbursed for the examination, certification, or report if one does so. A certification of MMI, finding of permanent impairment, and/or impairment rating assigned by an unauthorized doctor are invalid. If a treating doctor finds that the injured employee has permanent impairment but is not authorized to assign an impairment rating, the doctor is also not authorized to certify MMI and shall refer the injured employee to a doctor who is so authorized.

(3) A doctor who is authorized under this subsection to certify MMI, determine whether permanent impairment exists, and assign an impairment rating and who does, shall be referred to as the “certifying doctor.”

(b) Certification of Maximum Medical Improvement.

(1) Maximum medical improvement (MMI) is:

(A) the earliest date after which, based on reasonable medical probability, further material recovery from or lasting improvement to an injury can no longer reasonably be anticipated;

(B) the expiration of 104 weeks from the date on which income benefits begin to accrue; or

(C) the date determined as provided by Texas Labor Code § 408.104.

(2) MMI must be certified before an impairment rating is assigned and the impairment rating must be assigned for the injured employee’s condition on the date of MMI. An impairment rating is invalid if it is based on the injured employee’s condition on a date that is not the MMI date. An impairment rating and the corresponding MMI date must be included in the Report of Medical Evaluation to be valid.

(3) Certification of MMI is a finding made by an authorized doctor that an injured employee has reached MMI as defined in subsection (b)(1) of this section.

(4) To certify MMI the certifying doctor shall:

(A) review medical records;

(B) perform a complete medical examination of the injured employee for the explicit purpose of determining MMI (certifying examination);

(C) assign a specific date at which MMI was reached.

(i) The date of MMI may not be prospective or conditional.

(ii) The date of MMI may be retrospective to the date of the certifying exam.

(D) Complete and submit required reports and documentation.

(c) Assignment of Impairment Rating.

(1) An impairment rating is the percentage of permanent impairment of the whole body resulting from the current compensable injury. A zero percent impairment may be a valid rating.

(2) A doctor who certifies that an injured employee has reached MMI shall assign an impairment rating for the current compensable injury using the rating criteria contained in the appropriate edition of the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, published by the American Medical Association (AMA Guides).

(A) The appropriate edition of the AMA Guides to use for all certifying examinations conducted before October 15, 2001 is the third edition, second printing, dated February, 1989.

(B) The appropriate edition of the AMA Guides to use for certifying examinations conducted on or after October 15, 2001 is:

(i) the fourth edition of the AMA Guides (1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th printing, including corrections and changes as issued by the AMA prior to May 16, 2000). If a subsequent printing(s) of the fourth edition of the AMA Guides occurs, and it contains no substantive changes from the previous printing, the division by vote at a public meeting may authorize the use of the subsequent printing(s); or

(ii) the third edition, second printing, dated February, 1989 if, at the time of the certifying examination, there is a certification of MMI by a doctor pursuant to subsection (b) of this section made prior to October 15, 2001 which has not been previously withdrawn through agreement of the parties or previously overturned by a final decision.

(C) This subsection shall be implemented to ensure that in the event of an impairment rating dispute, only ratings using the appropriate edition of the AMA Guides shall be considered. Impairment ratings assigned using the wrong edition of the AMA Guides shall not be considered valid.

(3) Assignment of an impairment rating for the current compensable injury shall be based on the injured employee’s condition on the MMI date considering the medical record and the certifying examination. An impairment rating is invalid if it is based on the injured employee’s condition on a date that is not the MMI date. An impairment rating and the corresponding MMI date must be included in the Report of Medical Evaluation to be valid. The doctor assigning the impairment rating shall:

(A) identify objective clinical or laboratory findings of permanent impairment for the current compensable injury;

(B) document specific laboratory or clinical findings of an impairment;

(C) analyze specific clinical and laboratory findings of an impairment;

(D) compare the results of the analysis with the impairment criteria and provide the following:

(i) A description and explanation of specific clinical findings related to each impairment, including zero percent (0%) impairment ratings; and

(ii) A description of how the findings relate to and compare with the criteria described in the applicable chapter of the AMA Guides. The doctor’s inability to obtain required measurements must be explained.

(E) assign one whole body impairment rating for the current compensable injury;

(F) be responsible for referring the injured employee to another doctor or health care provider for testing, or evaluation, if additional medical information is required. The certifying doctor is responsible for incorporating all additional information obtained into the report required by this rule:

(i) Additional information must be documented and incorporated into the impairment rating and acknowledged in the required report.

(ii) If the additional information is not consistent with the clinical findings of the certifying doctor, then the documentation must clearly explain why the information is not being used as part of the impairment rating.

(4) After September 1, 2003, if range of motion, sensory, and strength testing required by the AMA Guides is not performed by the certifying doctor, the testing shall be performed by a health care practitioner, who within the two years prior to the date the injured employee is evaluated, has had the impairment rating training module required by § 180.23 (relating to Division Required Training for Doctors) for a doctor to be certified to assign impairment ratings. It is the responsibility of the certifying doctor to ensure the requirements of this subsection are complied with.

(5) If an impairment rating is assigned in violation of subsection (c)(4), the rating is invalid and the evaluation and report are not reimbursable. A provider that is paid for an evaluation and/or report that is invalid under this subsection shall refund the payment to the insurance carrier.

(d) Reporting.

(1) Certification of MMI, determination of permanent impairment, and assignment of an impairment rating (if permanent impairment exists) for the current compensable injury requires completion, signing, and submission of the Report of Medical Evaluation and a narrative report.

(A) The Report of Medical Evaluation must be signed by the certifying doctor. The certifying doctor may use a rubber stamp signature or an electronic facsimile signature of the certifying doctor’s personal signature.

(B) The Report of Medical Evaluation includes an attached narrative report. The narrative report must include the following:

(i) date of the certifying examination;

(ii) date of MMI;

(iii) findings of the certifying examination, including both normal and abnormal findings related to the compensable injury and an explanation of the analysis performed to find whether MMI was reached;

(iv) narrative history of the medical condition that outlines the course of the injury and correlates the injury to the medical treatment;

(v) current clinical status;

(vi) diagnosis and clinical findings of permanent impairment as stated in subsection (c)(3);

(vii) the edition of the AMA Guides that was used in assigning the impairment rating (if the injured employee has permanent impairment); and

(viii) a copy of the authorization if, after September 1, 2003, the doctor received authorization to assign an impairment rating and certify MMI by exception granted from the division.

(2) A Report of Medical Evaluation under this rule shall be filed with the division, injured employee, injured employee’s representative, and the insurance carrier no later than the seventh working day after the later of:

(A) date of the certifying examination; or

(B) the receipt of all of the medical information required by this section.

(3) The report required to be filed under this section shall be filed as follows:

(A) The Report of Medical Evaluation shall be filed with the insurance carrier by facsimile or electronic transmission; and

(B) The Report of Medical Evaluation shall be filed with the division, the injured employee and the injured employee’s representative by facsimile or electronic transmission if the doctor has been provided the recipient’s facsimile number or email address; otherwise, the report shall be filed by other verifiable means.

(e) Documentation. The certifying doctor shall maintain the original copy of the Report of Medical Evaluation and narrative as well as documentation of:

(1) the date of the examination;

(2) the date any medical records necessary to make the certification of MMI were received, and from whom the medical records were received; and

(3) the date, addressees, and means of delivery that reports required under this section were transmitted or mailed by the certifying doctor.

The provisions of this §130.1 adopted to be effective June 7, 2000, 25 TexReg 5352; amended to be effective January 2, 2002, 26 TexReg 10910; amended to be effective March 14, 2004, 29 TexReg 2328; amended to be effective August 25, 2013, 38 TexReg 5263.

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At a Glance:

Title:

§ 130.1. Certification of Maximum Medical Improvement and Evaluation of Permanent Impairment

Title:

Title 28. Insurance

Status:

Current

Usage:

New Law Rule

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