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Speaking of hats, our hat is off to the DWC for revamping its much-maligned Designated Doctor program. This month it amended rules in chapter 127 and promulgated a newRequest for Designated Doctor Examination (Form DWC-32) and a new Designated Doctor Examination Data Report (Form DWC-68). The changes become effective December 6, 2018.

One goal of the changes is to increase participation of medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy. To that end, the DWC has changed the manner in which it assigns examinations. It will maintain two independent lists for each county from which the next designated doctor will be selected. One list will consist of doctors qualified to perform examinations under Rule 127.130(b)(1) –(4). These examinations involve musculoskeletal injuries for which medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, and chiropractors are qualified to perform an exam. The other list will consist of doctors qualified to perform examinations under Rule 127.130(b)(5) – (9). These examinations involve specialized injuries for which medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, doctor of optometry, and doctors of dental surgery  are qualified to perform an exam.  Those injuries include, but are not limited to, mental and behavioral disorders and injuries of the feet, teeth, eyes and internal systems. A qualified doctor can be on both lists. The DWC hopes that this change will result in more opportunities for medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy to receive assignments for multiple examinations in the same location on the same day, thereby making the examinations more profitable for the doctors.

These changes are sorely needed. Data released by the DWC this month shows that of the 509 available DDs, 345 are chiropractors and only 163 are medical doctors or doctors of osteopathy.

The rule amendments also will give the DWC more tools to weed out DDs that are just plain bad. Specifically, the Division now will be able to deny certification as a DD for a number of newly-specified reasons including, but not limited to, (1) the quality of the doctor’s past DD reports, (2) demonstrated lack of ability to properly apply the  Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, and (3) a pattern of reports overturned by the DWC.

-  Copyright 2018,David L. SwansonStone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP.