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Low-Back Impairment-Rating Practices of Orthopaedic Surgeons and Neurosurgeons in West Virginia

GREENWOOD, JUDITH GOODWIN, PhD, MPH

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The inquiry on low-back impairment rating practices among physicians who treat or evaluate workers' compensation claimants replicates an earlier inquiry appearing in Spine by Brand and Lehmann (1983). Findings are essentially similar Physicians consider factors other than those of physical impairment in assigning ratings, and ratings in two states are similar rather than different. The conclusion of the earlier inquiry and premise of this inquiry is that lacking widely accepted criteria for rating low-back impairment, physicians rate the disability of an individual as they perceive it. Based on findings from both inquiries, varience among ratings increases as ratings become higher. A second conclusion is that duration of time-loss disability from work before a permanent rating is made can be detrimental regarding return to work.

From West Virginia Workers' Compensation Fund.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.