Increase Your Impairment Rating Accuracy

Understanding impairment is essential to workers’ compensation cases. Without a working definition of how the AMA Guides approaches impairment, accurate impairment ratings are impossible to assign or review. If you are working in the world of California workers’ compensation then you understand how complex impairment rating can be.

If you don’t have a thorough knowledge of how ratings are assigned in accordance with the AMA Guides then the accuracy of your permanent and stationary reports may be suffering. This leads to delays in patient care as well as extra work for you and your staff. 

Impairment severity, functional limitations and regional impairments… there’s a lot to wade through. Fortunately there’s a simple explanation for all of these moving parts. To learn more about the whole body approach to impairment simply follow RateFast’s easy walkthrough. How does the AMA guides fifth edition approach impairment? There are only 6 facts to keep in mind:

  1. The impairment severity reflects resulting in functional limitations.
  2. Most chapters report impairment as a whole person impairment units.
  3. Upper and lower extremity chapters have a regional impairments to assign additional weighted value to the specific areas of the arms and legs.
  4. Chapter 16, the upper extremities report sub impairment at the levels of digits, hand, and upper extremity.
  5. Chapter 17 the lower extremities report sub impairment at the levels of foot and lower extremity.
  6. Regional impairments of the spine are weighted accordingly to contribution of function.

So let’s say there’s a 52-year-old right-hand dominant labor worker sustained an amputation to his right thumb at the MP joint (40% HI), and the right small finger at the MP joint (10% HI).

Why is there such a big difference in impairment values? Using the organ system and whole body approach to impairment, the thumb is given four times the value as the little finger for functionality importance. Remember, The Guides 5th edition gives relative weights to organs and body systems. A keen understanding is critical to creating and reviewing accurate and reproducible impairment reports

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