Commission Issues Recommendations on Physician Examinations for Workers’ Compensation
The Commission on Health and Safety and Worker's Compensation on Friday issued new recommendations to the San Francisco-based Industrial Medical Council on improving the oversight of physicians who treat injured workers seeking workers' compensation, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports. The recommendations were made in response to an investigation launched after a former Sonoma County employee injured in a work-related car accident in 1997 complained to the commission that state regulators were approving physicians who had been disciplined by state agencies without notifying workers of the actions against the physicians. In cases in which the worker is permanently injured and the parties involved cannot agree on the extent of the injury, physicians called Qualified Medical Evaluators assess workers' injuries. Many of the more than 4,000 evaluators certified and licensed by the state may not be following standard procedures, do not spend enough time with workers, make workers wait longer than an hour and "do not always treat injured workers with respect," according to a council report to the commission released the same day as the recommendations. The commission said that while the council is "making progress" in addressing problems, it does "not communicate well with, or understand the needs of, injured workers," the Press Democrat reports. The commission recommended that the council publish easy-to-understand instructions for workers, take action against physicians who do not comply with regulations and add public members to the council, which currently is comprised entirely of physicians. The council should also post disciplinary actions on its Web site and terminate or suspend physicians within 30 days of learning of disciplinary action by licensing boards, the commission advised. Commission members will adopt final recommendations after a public comment period (Fricker, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 2/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.