Apportionment of Impairment from Meniscal Tears and Knee Arthritis
Charles N. Brooks
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James B. Talmage
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Abstract

Meniscal tears and osteoarthritis (osteoarthrosis, degenerative arthritis, or degenerative joint disease) are two of the most common conditions involving the knee. This article includes definitions of apportionment and causes; presents a case report of initial and recurrent tears of the medial meniscus plus osteoarthritis (OA) in the medial compartment of the knee; and addresses questions regarding apportionment. The authors, experienced impairment raters who are knowledgeable regarding the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides), show that, when instructions on impairment rating are incomplete, unclear, or inconsistent, interrater reliability diminishes (different physicians may derive different impairment estimates). Accurate apportionment of impairment is a demanding task that requires detailed knowledge of causation for the conditions in question; the mechanisms of injury or extent of exposures; prior and current symptoms, functional status, physical findings, and clinical study results; and use of the appropriate edition of the AMA Guides. Sometimes the available data are incomplete, requiring the rating physician to make assumptions. However, if those assumptions are reasonable and consistent with the medical literature and facts of the case, if the causation analysis is plausible, and if the examiner follows impairment rating instructions in the AMA Guides (or at least uses a rational and hence defensible method when instructions are suboptimal), the resulting apportionment should be credible.

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