QUESTION: In Virginia, common practice is to have a physical therapist perform a functional capacity evaluation (FCE), and on the basis of this evaluation, provide an impairment rating that will be reviewed by the treating physician. Is this appropriate?l

ANSWER: No. The Fifth and Sixth Editions of the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment are both clear in stating that assessments are to be performed by physicians. Ratings based solely on the results of FCEs do not accurately assess impairment. Physician-derived impairment ratings are often used to determine financial compensation in workers' compensation systems for decreased earning ability that roughly correlates with the impairment. If the impairment assessment is inaccurate, the award will not be appropriate. Common practices used in assessing loss do not necessarily mean these practices are correct. As stated in Sections 2.1 and...

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