Sunday, August 27, 2006

Commonwealth Court Defines Role of Claimant's Designated Health Care Provider Who Attends Independent Medical Examination

In M. Knechtel v. WCAB (Marriott Corporation), the Claimant elected to have a health care provider of her choosing attend an independent psychiatric evaluation. The Claimant further requested of the WCJ that her designated health care provider be permitted to video or audio tape record the examination, question the examiner, comment on the examination process and assist the Claimant during the examination by rephrasing questions and asking additional questions during the examination.

The WCJ denied all of these manners of participation, holding the Claimant’s representative may only observe, take notes, and request brief recesses during the evaluation to confer with the Claimant. The Board and the Court affirmed. The Court reasoned it had ruled in Wolfe v. Workmen’s Compensation Appeal Board (Edgewater Steel Company), 636 A.2d 1293 (Pa. Cmwlth.), appeal denied, 537 Pa. 669, 644 A.2d 1205 (1994) that the Claimant is not able to be represented by her attorney at the examination. Participation of the type the Claimant was requesting was tantamount to an adversarial proceeding.

The Court stated the role of the Claimant’s designated health care provider is to obtain a firsthand view of the exam process as a foundation for later rebutting in testimony the validity of the exam results.

No comments: