Section 11A: Impartial medical examiners
Section 11A. (1) With the assistance of the medical consultant to the commissioner and the administrative judges, the senior judge shall periodically review and update a roster of impartial medical examiners who are certified specialists in various medical fields and who are willing to make prompt reports and be deposed as hereinafter provided. The department shall establish criteria for being named to and remaining on said roster.
(2) When any claim or complaint involving a dispute over medical issues is the subject of an appeal of a conference order pursuant to section ten A, the parties shall agree upon an impartial medical examiner from the roster to examine the employee and submit such choice to the administrative judge assigned to the case within ten calendar days of filing the appeal, or said administrative judge shall appoint such examiner from the roster. The insurer or any claimant represented by counsel who files such appeal shall also submit a fee equal to the average weekly wage in the commonwealth at the time of the appeal to defray the cost of the medical examination under this section within ten days of filing said appeal; provided, however, that where more than one party appeals, the fee shall be divided equally among all appealing parties; provided, further, that such amount paid by a claimant shall be refunded by the insurer to any claimant who prevails at the hearing.
The impartial medical examiner, so agreed upon or appointed, shall examine the employee and make a report at least one week prior to the beginning of the hearing, which shall be sent to each party. No hearing shall be commenced sooner than one week after such report has been received by the parties. The report of the impartial medical examiner shall, where feasible, contain a determination of the following: (i) whether or not a disability exists, (ii) whether or not any such disability is total or partial and permanent or temporary in nature, and (iii) whether or not within a reasonable degree of medical certainty any such disability has as its major or predominant contributing cause a personal injury arising out of and in the course of the employee's employment. Such report shall also indicate the examiner's opinion as to whether or not a medical end result has been reached and what permanent impairments or losses of function have been discovered, if any. Such impartial physician's report shall constitute prima facie evidence of the matters contained therein.
Failure of an employee to report to an impartial medical examiner agreed upon or appointed under this section or under section eight, after due notice and without cause, and failure to submit to such examiner all relevant medical records, medical reports, medical histories, and any other relevant information requested without good reason, shall constitute sufficient cause for suspension of benefits pursuant to section forty-five. The report of the impartial medical examiner shall be admitted into evidence at the hearing. Either party shall have the right to engage the impartial medical examiner to be deposed for purposes of cross examination. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, no additional medical reports or depositions of any physicians shall be allowed by right to any party; provided, however, that the administrative judge may, on his own initiative or upon a motion by a party, authorize the submission of additional medical testimony when such judge finds that said testimony is required due to the complexity of the medical issues involved or the inadequacy of the report submitted by the impartial medical examiner. The fact that the impartial examiner has not treated the employee shall not constitute sufficient reason for finding any report of an impartial medical examiner inadequate.
(3) The fee for the provision of a medical report by any impartial medical examiner engaged under this section shall be a reasonable amount approved by the commissioner, and shall be paid by the department to the physician promptly upon receipt of the report. The fee for the provision of a deposition by any impartial medical examiner engaged under this section shall be a reasonable amount approved by the commissioner, and shall be paid by the deposing party directly to the physician promptly upon receipt of the report; provided, however, that if the decision of the administrative judge is in favor of the employee, the cost of such deposition shall be added to the amount awarded to the employee and be paid by the insurer under the provisions of this chapter. In reviewing and updating said roster, the senior judge shall utilize the criteria developed by the health care services board pursuant to section thirteen.