EMERGENCY REGULATIONS ADOPTED FOR MEDICAL-LEGAL REPORTING RE: COVID-19
The DWC announced installment of emergency regulations regarding medical-legal reporting in response to COVID-19. The two (2) temporary regulations are effective from
May 14, 2020 to January 12, 2021 with two possible 150-day extensions depending upon further Executive Orders from Gov. Newsom.
"QME Emergency Regulations in Response to COVID-19"
a) An QME/AME may reset a currently scheduled in-person med-legal exam to take place within 90 days after stay-at-home orders are lifted;
Can electronically issue a record review report as well as conduct a telephonic or video interview of the applicant; and
Can conduct the actual med-legal exam either in-person
or through "telehealth" (video-conferencing) provided certain conditions are met (i.e. need exam to resolve an issue, worker can stay home, all parties agree, and video exam is medically reasonable).
b) Extends the time period for scheduling an initial QME exam from 60 days to 90 days, and allows the party with the right to schedule the exam to waive the 90 days and set the exam within 120 days.
c) Extends all time frames to prepare and serve medical-legal evaluation reports by 15 days.
d) After an initial med-legal exam, any subsequent exam can be held at any official office of the QME provided within reasonable distance to the injured worker and if agreeable by the parties.
Electronic Service Emergency Regulation in Response to COVID-19
a) QME and AME reports may be served electronically where agreed upon by the parties, but not allowed on any unrepresented party or injured worker; and
d) Addresses the required procedures in serving the reports electronically, including replacing Form 122 Service Declaration with an Affidavit of Proof of Electronic Service.
[COMMENT: Certainly reasonable to temporarily suspend some procedures and extend time frames in light of COVID-19. Also more cost-effective to allow QMEs some leeway at this time rather than incurring the cost and delays of parties filing time frame objections and requests for replacement panels.]