Maximum Medical Improvement and the Independent Medical Examinations
If you, or someone you love, have been injured on the job, you know that injured workers in South Carolina are entitled to workers compensation benefits, including medical treatment.
Maximum Medical Improvement
You may also recognize that an injured worker will likely to reach a point at which the treating physician opines that additional treatment will not improve the employee’s condition. This is known as maximum medical improvement or (MMI). Even if an injured worker has reached MMI, he or she may still require medical treatment.
Maximum medical improvement is a plateau an injured worker hits once additional treatment will not improve his or her condition, even though additional treatment may be required. Once an injured worker has reached MMI, the physician must then determine whether there is any permanent impairment. In the event of permanent impairment, an impairment rating will be assigned.
The impairment rating issued reflects the treating physician’s medical opinion regarding the degree of injury sustained. In other words, the degree of permanent injury (loss of use or mobility to a body part) sustained. However, the physician must use guidelines set forth by the American Medical Association in determining the particular impairment rating.
Sometimes, employees are temporarily disabled, but can fully recover and return to work. In many instances, especially in labor-intensive jobs like construction work, an injured worker’s limitations may preclude him or her from returning to the job. When an injured worker is unable to return to work, it is critically important that the physician document the work-related limitations (i.e. the ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, and carry) because the impairment rating may not fully establish the degree of disability.
When to Request an Independent Medical Exam (IME)
In some instances, the impairment rating issued does not reflect how the injury has impacted an injured worker’s life. In these instances, a worker’s compensation attorney can request an independent medical examination, or IME. Unlike your treatment provider, this physician is selected by your attorney. As your workers compensation attorney, if you are hurt on the job, and we do not feel that the assigned impairment rating reflects the injuries you sustained, we may suggest an independent medical examination, or IME.
The Strom Law Firm is here to assist you through the workers compensation process. Not only can the Strom Law Firm arrange for an IME, we will make sure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation that you deserve.