According to a study from the California Workers’ Compensation Institute released last month, the number of qualified medical evaluators (QMEs) in California fell 20% between January 2012 and September 2017.
QMEs are qualified physicians who are certified by the Division of Workers’ Compensation Medical Unit to examine injured workers to assess disability and write medical-legal reports.
The study compares the list of QMEs certified in the state in 2012 with the list from September 2017 to evaluate changes in the population over time.
In addition, the average payment per medical-legal service flattened out in the 2015 and 2016 after a period of increase from 2007 to 2014. The study’s data from the first half of 2017 shows the average payment may now be decreasing.
According to the study, most job injury claims are related to musculoskeletal injuries, and orthopedists provided more than half of all medical-legal services in the years 2012 and 2017. However, they represented just one in six QMEs in both years. One in five QMEs was a chiropractor, but they only made up 5.1% of medical-legal services in 2012 and just 6.7% in 2017.
In 2017, chiropractors, spine specialists, orthopedic surgeons, or mental health specialists made up almost 70% of all medical-legal services. The study found that more than 85% of injured workers who used these specialists would have access to at least five QMEs in a 30-mile radius.
If you are an injured worker, it is essential to have access to QMEs in your area so that you can be evaluated properly and find out if you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits.