What is the purpose of California's Independent Medical Review?
I have to ask myself this question in light of the most recent proposed changes to Utilization Review/IMR rules published by the Division of Workers' Compensation (a whopping 75 pages long, albeit inclusive of all changes since origin).
What causes me to pause is that the new amendments would allow a medical reviewer to, “issue a determination as to whether the disputed medical treatment is medically necessary based on both a summary of medical records listed in the utilization review determination,” and additional documents submitted by the employee or requesting physician.
In addition, the latest amendments reverse the order in which documentation is mandated - prior versions of the regulations said the claims administrator shall provide the documents. This version provides that the IMR entity shall RECEIVE documents. I don't know why this was done, but to me it seems bass-ackwards.
Finally the pending amendments would allow the DWC administrative director to determine that an IMR decision is not valid because the case should not have been deemed eligible for review in the first place. The rules would say the director can vacate an IMR determination at any point unless an appeal has been filed with the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board or the time to file an appeal has expired.
IMR was statutorily authorized by Labor Code section 4610.5, added via SB 863.
LC 4610.5 provides a list of the documents...