Doctor's affiliation with medical school sufficient to allow comp evaluation
Morrison v. The Home Depot, et al., No. 2007-CA-002457-WC (Ky. Ct. App. 02/13/09).
Ruling: The Kentucky Court of Appeals agreed with the Workers' Compensation Board that the examining doctor was sufficiently affiliated with the university to be considered a "university evaluator." He could therefore conduct workers' compensation medical examinations.
What it means: An examining doctor must show he is affiliated with a designated university medical school and not a private treating physician to be considered a university evaluator for workers' compensation purposes.
The claimant injured his neck, shoulder and back in a work-related fall. Because questions about the condition of his shoulder persisted, the claimant needed to be examined by a "university evaluator." The Office of Workers' Claims referred the matter to the University of Louisville Medical School, which appointed a doctor. The doctor, an active, non-tenured professor at the medical school, maintained an outside office but did not actively treat patients.
The claimant objected to the doctor's findings, contending that the chosen doctor was not a university evaluator, as described by Kentucky law, but instead was a private practitioner. The Kentucky Supreme Court has indicated the law does not authorize universities to subcontract private physicians to perform evaluations.
Under Kentucky law, a "university evaluator" is defined as a doctor who is either employed by, or on the staff of, one of the designated medical schools. The Court of Appeals pointed out that at the time the claimant was evaluated, the doctor was a professor of orthopedic surgery at the medical school. It agreed that although the university had contacted the doctor at an outside clinic, it had done so because the doctor's office was physically located within the clinic and not because he happened to be an independent contractor with the clinic as well as a non-tenured professor.
March 16, 2009
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