In 2008, the Kentucky Legislature instructed the Commissioner of the Department of Workers’ Claims to:
Study the feasibility and advisability of adopting the sixth edition of, ‘Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment,’ published by the American Medical Association, or of retaining the usage of the fifth edition of that publication. In conducting the study, the commissioner shall seek the input of groups representing labor, industry, commerce, and the medical and legal professions.
The issue was revisited during the 2009 Kentucky legislative session with House Bill 333, sponsored by B. Yonts, D. Butler, T. Turner, R. Webb, which proposed to “Amend KRS Chapter 342 to require use of the 5th edition of AMA guides; amend KRS 67A.460 to conform; repeal 2008 Acts Chapter 55.” The bill was later amended to require that recommendations relating to the adoption of the 6th edition or retention of the 5th edition of the AMA Guides be presented to the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission by January 4, 2010.
In his January 2010, report to the Kentucky Legislature, Department of Workers’ Claims Commissioner Dwight T. Lovan gave the final death knell for the 6th edition of the AMA Guides.
Despite an initial and exhaustive 200 page report and a recent follow-up supplemental report based on the Commissioner’s additional research, the decision to axe the 6th edition seemed most simply borne of complacency with the 5th edition.
Lovan’s primary critique was that the medical experts advancing the 6th edition were promoting opinions, not science, and that there was insufficient data to establish the efficacy of the 6th edition over the 5th edition.
In the final analysis, however, Lovan’s ultimate recommendation was nestled in the Kentucky workers’ compensation community’s apparent comfort with the 5th edition, and the “certainty and consistency” which he felt the 6th edition would eradicate. Retraining and reeducation mandated by adoption of the 6th edition, in Lovan’s opinion, would result in a reduction in the number of physicians who would be willing to perform impairment assessments.
Thus, the final recommendation was for continued use of the 5th edition of the AMA Guides for assessing impairment ratings under the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Act, and for statutory identification of the 5th edition as the appropriate Guides to be used, until such time when a new edition of the Guides is studied and deemed feasible for adoption.
The next step will be for the Kentucky Legislature to take action on the recommendation. It is not anticipated any action adverse to the recommendations of the Commissioner will be taken.
© Copyright 2010 by Roland Legal PLLC. Reprinted with permission.