UTILIZATION REVIEW (UR) DECISIONS ARE NOW INVALID IF IT IS SHOWN THAT THE UR DECISION WAS "UNTIMELY" or suffers from material (underlining added) procedural defects "that undermine the integrity of the UR decision." This WCAB decision is "en banc" and also states that "minor technical or immaterial defects are insufficient to invalidate a defendant's UR determination."
This statement is derived from page two of the Workers Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) "en banc" decision for the State of California in Jose Dubon vs World Restoration and State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) filed at San Francisco on 2/27/14.
This "en banc" decision also states that the "issue of timeliness and compliance with statutes and regulations governing UR are legal disputes within the jurisdiction of the WCAB."
Of keen interest is the following additional conclusion by the WCAB: "If a defendant's UR is found invalid, the issue of medical necessity is not subject to IMR (underlining added) but is to be determined by the WCAB based upon substantial medical evidence, with the employee having the burden of proving the treatment is reasonably required."
Finally, WCAB also states that when UR is provided in a timely and valid manner the issue of medical necessity shall be resolved through the IMR process if requested by the employee (editor's note: it is the employee who must make the actual request).
This decision has major importance for injured workers and their PTPs (primary treating physicians). For injured workers unfairly treated by the system, this decision is a decided victory; however, there are caveats, e.g., it will not always be easy to decide when wrongful steps reflect "minor technical or immaterial defects" or "material procedural defects."
Editor's comment: The Achilles' heel in the process is UR where many of the participants are not licensed in California and are not subject to the jurisdiction of this state's medical board or even to the jurisdiction of their own state medical board since the latter board does not have jurisdiction in California. These UR decisions may often be careless in part because they're not subject to public policy review by any state medical board.
Jose Dubon vs World Restoration and State Compensation Insurance Fund, Case Nos. ADJ 4274323 (ANA 0387677) and ADJ 1601669 (ANA 0388466).