Workers' Compensation

Pennsylvania: IRE Physicians Not Limited to Impairment Issues Identified in NCP

In a 5–2 decision, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, reversing an earlier decision by the Commonwealth Court, held that a physician performing an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) under § 306(a.2)(1) of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act [77 Pa. Stat. § 511.2(1) must exercise independent professional judgment and, therefore, consider all conditions that the physician believes are related to the worker’s work-related injury, not just those that are designated in the notice of compensation payable (the “NCP”). Speaking for the majority, Chief Justice Sayer indicated that where, as here, the IRE physician failed to consider a worker’s alleged psychological injuries—which were not specifically mentioned in the NCP—the IRE report was invalid. Justice Baer dissented, saying the majority’s decision had the effect of allowing an injured worker to invalidate an IRE by identifying symptoms or conditions that had not been previously identified to the employer. Justice Wecht also dissented, indicating, inter alia, that the majority relied upon the AMA Guides, 6th ed., in spite of the fact that the use of that edition might well be inappropriate [see Protz v. W.C.A.B. (Derry Area School District, 124 A.3d 406 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2015), appeal granted, 133 A.3d 733 (Pa. 2016).

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Duffey v. Workers’ Comp. Appeal Bd. (Trola-Dyne, Inc.), 2017 Pa. LEXIS 132 (Jan. 19, 2017)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 131.03.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law