CWCI to Host Seminar on New Permanent Disability Rating Schedule

January 10, 2005

Tthe California Workers’ Compensation Institute has announced it will conduct a one-day seminar, “PD Rating 102: Practical & Legal Aspects of Implementing California’s New PD Rating Schedule.” The program, which will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be held February 7 at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco, February 10 at the Irvine Marriott, and February 11 at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills.

The Division of Workers’ Compensation recently sent its proposed new PD Rating Schedule to the Office of Administrative Law, requesting an effective date of January 1, 2005, as required by SB 899. The schedule includes methodologies for combining multiple disabilities, a diminished earning capacity variant, and age and occupation modifiers. CWCI is holding the seminar to provide claims and legal professionals with practical guidance on how to use the new schedule.

The 2004 workers’ compensation reform bill, SB 899, required a major overhaul of the method used to determine permanent disability (PD). Under the new system, the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Impairment, 5th Ed. will be the crucial element needed to determine a correct PD rating — and the only element over which claims operations have any discretion. In October, CWCI presented “AMA Guides 101,” a program to help industry professionals become familiar with the Guides and to develop the skills needed to recognize issues, understand key medical findings, and identify correct methodologies for determining impairment.

During the morning session of the February seminars, Christopher Brigham, MD will use several sample cases to pull all the elements together and show how to complete PD evaluations. To get the most out of this portion of the program, attendees are advised to bring a copy of the AMA Guides with them (anyone who does not have a copy of the AMA Guides may order one in advance by calling 510-251-9470). Dr. Brigham will also examine unique issues that will arise so claims/legal staff can correctly apply the various elements of the new Permanent Disability Rating Schedule (PDRS), validate medical reports in accordance with the AMA Guides, and apply the disability variants to complete the rating. In the afternoon session of the program, a panel of top workers’ comp attorneys — Saul Allweiss, Richard Jacobsmeyer, Michael Marks, and Phil Walker — will discuss legal issues surrounding the implementation and use of the new PD evaluation system. The panel, moderated by CWCI General Counsel Michael McClain will look at apportionment under the old and new systems, the new rules for rating psychiatric injury, cross examination techniques, and anticipated legal challenges. The program will conclude with a Q&A session to reinforce the material and address any outstanding issues.

The seminar is appropriate for claims administrators, attorneys, hearing reps, QMEs and other medical providers. Continuing education units will be available for claims examiners, attorneys, hearing reps, QMEs and registered nurses. 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, January 28. Details and registration forms are available online at www.cwci.org or by calling Mel Long at 510-251-9470.

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