Special Features: Duties of the Examining Physician
Alan Colledge
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Workers’ compensation systems provided $25.3 billion of compensation benefits in 1999, and nearly $19 billion of this was compensation for permanent injury. Under workers’ compensation, when injured worker have missed a predetermined amount of work time, they are eligible for wage indemnification (the amount is determined by the jurisdiction). Benefits continue until the disabling condition either permits a return to work or reaches a plateau at which healing ends and no significant improvement is likely (maximum medical improvement or a permanent and stationary condition). How the award is calculated differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction: In some jurisdictions, permanent injury benefits are awarded only on the direct physical loss; other jurisdictions compensate to some degree for expected wage loss, loss of employment options, expenses for accommodating the disability, and, perhaps, an implicit award for psychological loss and pain. Some jurisdictions require all impairments to be combined as a single whole person impairment, but others use individual impairments expressed as a regional impairment. In some jurisdictions, the permanent benefit is statutory and has no medical or clinical basis (eg, some statutes limit or disallow awards for conditions such as tinnitus or certain psychological conditions). Evaluators must be aware of statutes, administrative rules, and case law that apply to the evaluation.

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