We have seen a dramatic decrease from designated doctors impairment ratings for sprain/strain spinal injuries in Texas Workers Compensation claims. The Fourth Edition of the AMA Guides generally uses Diagnosis Related Estimate (DRE) Categories to provide for spinal injuries. Most sprain/strain injuries result in either a DRE Category I or a DRE Category II.
To find a DRE Category I, it must fit under the following description and verification:
The patient has no significant clinical findings, no muscle guarding or history of guarding, no documentable neurologic impairment, no significant loss of structural integrity on lateral flexion and extension roentgenograms, and no indication of impairment related to injury or illness.
A DRE Category I provides a 0% Impairment Rating. This essentially means that the injured worker has no permanent impairment as a result of the compensable injury.
Daniel L Morris, The Morris Law Firm, firstname.lastname@example.org, 9214)357-1782