There are many important steps during the workers’ compensation process. The employee and employer will both be required to file particular paperwork and may have to attend court. The employee will also need to receive medical treatment. The medical attention will be not only for the purpose of treating the injury, but also for assessing the employee’s injury and assigning a disability rating. One of the medical care providers the employee will likely need to meet with is a qualified medical examiner (QME).
The qualified medical examiner is a doctor that is licensed to practice medicine in California. The QME is also certified by the Division of Workers’ Compensation Medical Unit in his or her area of expertise. The QME is meant to be able to provide an unbiased opinion about the injured employee’s injury. The opinion of the QME can have a serious impact on the outcome of your case. The QME provides an opinion on the disability rating of the injured employee, which in turn has a direct impact on the length and amount of workers’ compensation benefits an employee may receive.
The most common way that an employee will need to be assessed by a QME is after the injured employee has been given a permanent disability rating by his or her treating physician and you and your workers’ compensation insurance provider disagrees with the rating. You and the insurance company can then request that the employee submits to a QME examination. The employee will be given a choice of three different QMEs in the area that he or she can choose from. The relationship between the employee and the QME is different than a typical physician-patient relationship. The examination by the QME is a “medical-legal” evaluation. Before the employee arrives at the QME’s office, the file will have already been sent over to the QME for review. The insurance company will have sent over a list of questions to the QME that they want answered based on the treatment the employee has already received. The QME will discuss the injury and the treatment received with the employee. The QME will then complete a report about the injury, detailing his or her findings. The QME is required to send a copy of the report to both the insurance company and the employee.