Abstract

This article continues a discussion of the results of a nationwide study that reviewed 2100 impairment ratings and found a large number of errors (see the May/June issue of The Guides Newsletter). Spinal impairment ratings, for example, often are erroneous. Although the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, (AMA Guides) clearly specifies use of the Diagnosis related estimates (DRE) method, evaluators sometimes incorrectly use the range-of-motion (ROM) method, which is fraught with potential error and typically results in higher impairment ratings. The most common problem associated with rating the lower extremities is combining multiple duplicative impairments. Multiple impairments typically are combined rather than added because the latter usually results in overrating impairments. A sidebar highlights red flags to erroneous AMA Guides ratings, and evaluators can take a number of steps to ensure accurate ratings. The first of these is to ensure an unbiased rating, preferably by a board-certified physician who, ideally, also has certification in the performance of independent medical and impairment examinations. The client requesting the evaluation should provide a cover letter describing the specifics of the evaluation, and the evaluator's report should comply with standards defined in the AMA Guides. All submitted reports should be reviewed by a physician experienced in the use of the AMA Guides; this cannot be accomplished by a nonphysician reviewer.

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