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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Flaws in the AMA Guides, 6th Edition

There is a crisis occurring with schedule awards. OWCP has adopted the AMA Guides, 6th Edition. Unfortunately, the AMA appears to be completely in the pocket of the insurance industry as impairment rating percentages have plummeted under the 6th Edition. OWCP with its complete focus on pleasing employing agencies and complete disregard for the well being and rights of injured workers will likely characterize this immense cost savings as the result of good management practices, not merely the adoption of an anti-worker methodology for determining schedule awards. Doctors now complain bitterly about how much more complicated and time consuming it is to do a rating under the 6th Edition and how frustrating the process is because they are forced to provide ratings that vastly underrate workers' impairment. The design of the 6th Edition prevents them from rating all of the conditions impairing a rateable body part, which is in direct conflict with the FECA requirement that all impairments to the rateable body part due to the injury or pre-existing conditions must be included in the rating.

Recently, the Employees Compensation Appeals Board had an opportunity to correct this violation of FECA, unfortunately they also chose to go along with the anti-worker sentiment that is entrenched at OWCP. Obviously, OWCP should have done what many other jurisdictions have been doing and rejected the AMA Guides, 6th Edition, as fundamentally flawed and unfair to the injured worker.