Physicians’ Guide to Minnesota Workers’ Compensation
12.23.2019 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.
Recently, I had the pleasure of presenting on workers’ compensation law to the HealthPartners Occupational Medicine Residency Program. It was wonderful to be invited to speak in front of the physicians who treat workers compensation patients on a daily basis.
We discussed the different types of injuries that are compensable under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act, benefits available to injured workers under the Act, and the role of qualified rehabilitation consultants, as well as issues in establishing medical causation and entitlement to ongoing medical care and treatment.
Which Injuries are Compensable?
In work comp, in order for an injury to become compensable, an employee must show that it is more likely than not that that work injury is a substantial contributing cause or factor to his or her condition. An employee may suffer from a pre-existing condition, and the work activity may be a substantial contributing factor to the aggravation or acceleration of that condition. In Minnesota, we take employees as we find them, meaning that employers assume the risk that an employee’s non-work related condition could become aggravated by the work activity. Notably, in work comp a physician does not have to opine with medical certainty; it must be more likely than not.
We also discussed issuing permanent partial disability (PPD) ratings, maximum medical improvement (MMI), and work restrictions. The doctors are frequently called to testify, typically by report or by deposition. In work comp, the workers’ compensation judge would read the treating physician’s report against the independent medical examiner’s report or the report from the adverse exam. We discussed foundation and what makes a stronger medical opinion from an evidentiary standpoint.
The physicians raised issues about patient privacy while participating in the work comp system, as well as frustration with getting patients appropriate care in the interim of a decision to admit or deny either an injury or a particular type of treatment or referral.
It was a privilege to be invited to speak and a pleasure to discuss work comp law with those that are providing medical care for my clients!