CWCI to Hold Seminar on Permanent Disability Rating

August 5, 2004

The California Workers’ Compensation Institute will present a seminar titled “Impairment Rating in California Workers’ Compensation: AMA Guides 101”, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, October 5 at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco; Thursday, October 7 at the Irvine Marriott; and Friday, October 8 at the Burbank Hilton.

One of the key reforms in SB 899, the 2004 California workers’ compensation bill, called for fundamental changes in the method used to calculate permanent disability. The bill requires that the state adopt a new, objective PD Rating Schedule by January 1, 2005. The new schedule will be comprised of four elements, three of which will be fixed amounts. SB 899, however, also mandated the use of descriptions, measurements and the associated percentages of impairment found in the AMA Guides 5th Edition. Knowledgeable claims administrators who understand this fourth component can have an impact on the impairment rating.

To gear up for the change to the new PD rating schedule, the California Workers’ Compensation Institute will hold a 1-day seminar in early October in San Francisco, Irvine and Burbank to introduce this essential element of the new rating process and provide the necessary foundation for a follow-up program that CWCI will develop once state finalizes the new schedule. The Institute’s seminar will be presented by two professional speakers who are among the world’s top experts on the AMA Guides: Christopher Brigham, MD, CIME, FACOEM, FAADEP, editor of the AMA Guides Newsletter; and attorney Phil Walker, who has extensive experience defending California workers’ compensation claims as well as claims in the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ system (which already uses the AMA Guides). CWCI General Counsel Michael McClain will moderate the program.

The program is appropriate for claims administrators, attorneys, hearing reps, medical case managers, QMEs and other medical providers. Continuing education units will be available for claims examiners, attorneys, hearing reps, QMEs and registered nurses. Among the key topics to be covered:

The Concept of Impairment in California Workers’ Compensation
The Source & Limitations of AMA Guides
The Proper Use of the AMA Guides: Steps in Evaluating Impairment and Critical Issues Related to Impairment
Testing and Objective Measurements: Understanding the Distinct Methodology for Rating Impairment, with Focus on the Most Common Injuries and Pain
Marshalling Medical Evidence to Present Your Strongest Case and Secure the Correct Impairment Rating
How to Read AMA Guide Reports
Identifying Red Flags
Managing and Challenging Erroneous Ratings
Productive Communication with Physicians

Tuition for the program is $395, with a discount available for regular employees of CWCI member companies. Preregistration is required, and the deadline for CWCI to receive all registrations with full payment is Friday, September 24. Details and registration forms are available online at or by calling Mel Long at 510-251-9470.

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