NASHVILLE — Tennessee physicians will soon be able to participate in a new state-sponsored program whose sole purpose is to establish a resource to resolve conflicting opinions regarding workers’ compensation permanent impairment ratings. The Medical Impairment Rating (MIR) Registry was created by the Tennessee legislature in the Workers’ Compensation Reform Act of 2004 to enhance and to improve the current independent medical examination process.
Board-certified and departmentally approved MDs and DOs will be assigned to the MIR Registry. The Workers’ Compensation division of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has established rules for all parties—employees, employers and insurance carriers— and for physicians participating in the program.
The incentives for physicians to serve on the MIR Registry are many. Physicians will be able to limit the scope of their involvement in the program as they will be allowed to choose the chapters of the AMA Guides in which they wish to specialize. Claimants requesting an evaluation will be matched with physicians who have designated corresponding criteria.
Also, MIR physicians will be recognized as experts in the field of impairment evaluation. Opinions issued by physicians on the Registry for cases involving the MIR program will be considered statutorily accurate and can be overcome only by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. And, an established Fee Table will generously reward registry physicians who are able to complete evaluations and the rating report in a timely manner. The fees are to be pre-paid by the employer and include cancellation fees, late fees and penalties if needed.
The MIR Registry will be available to any party who disputes the impairment rating of a physician in a workers’ compensation claim for injuries that occur on or after July 1, 2005. The expense of the evaluation will be borne by the employer. Other potential issues such as causation, apportionment, appropriateness of treatment, work restrictions, and job modifications will not be considered or addressed by this program.
It is expected that any invasive tests and procedures, excluding venipuncture, required for an impairment rating and essential under the applicable edition of the “AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment” will have been performed prior to the impairmentevaluation and, therefore, will not need to be performed by the MIR Registry physician.
Physicians interested in serving on the registry are encouraged to contact MIR Program Coordinator Jeff Francis. Rules of the program, including minimum qualifications for physicians, the fees for the evaluation, and application procedures are available from him at 615-253-1613 or by e-mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.