The AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides), Fifth Edition, is available and includes numerous changes that will affect both evaluators who and systems that use the AMA Guides. The Fifth Edition is nearly twice the size of its predecessor (613 pages vs 339 pages) and contains three additional chapters (the musculoskeletal system now is split into three chapters and the cardiovascular system into two). Table 1 shows how chapters in the Fifth Edition were reorganized from the Fourth Edition. In addition, each of the chapters is presented in a consistent format, as shown in Table 2. This article and subsequent issues of The Guides Newsletter will examine these changes, and the present discussion focuses on major revisions, particularly those in the first two chapters. (See Table 3 for a summary of the revisions to the musculoskeletal and pain chapters.) Chapter 1, Philosophy, Purpose, and Appropriate Use of the AMA Guides, emphasizes objective assessment necessitating a medical evaluation. Most impairment percentages in the Fifth Edition are unchanged from the Fourth because the majority of ratings currently are accepted, there is limited scientific data to support changes, and ratings should not be changed arbitrarily. Chapter 2, Practical Application of the AMA Guides, describes how to use the AMA Guides for consistent and reliable acquisition, analysis, communication, and utilization of medical information through a single set of standards.

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