(a) When a request is made by the insurance carrier (carrier), or the Division, for a medical examination, the Division shall determine if an examination should occur. The Division shall grant or deny the request within seven days of the date the request is received by the Division. A copy of the action of the Division shall be sent to the injured employee (employee), the employee's representative (if any), and the carrier. The notice shall explain the circumstances under which an employee may experience loss of benefits and penalty exposure for failing to attend the examination as well as the need to reschedule a missed examination. An agreement between the parties for an examination under § 126.5 of this title (relating to Entitlement and Procedure for Requesting Required Medical Examinations) that the carrier has a right to has the same effect as the action of the Division.
(b) All examinations required under this section must be scheduled to occur within 30 days after receipt of the notice, with at least 10 days notice to the employee and the employee's representative (if any). If a scheduling conflict exists, the employee and the doctor shall contact each other. The doctor or the employee who has the scheduling conflict must make contact at least 24 hours prior to the appointment. The 24-hour requirement will be waived in an emergency situation (such as a death in the immediate family or a medical emergency). The rescheduled examination shall be set for a date within seven days of the originally scheduled examination, unless an extension is agreed upon by the employee and doctor. The extension may not be to a date later than the 30th day after the originally scheduled examination. In this event, the examining doctor shall notify the carrier and the 10 days notice requirement does not apply to a rescheduled examination.
(c) The employee's treating doctor may be present at an examination scheduled with a doctor selected by the carrier. The employee's treating doctor may observe the conduct of the examination, and may consult with the examining doctor about the course of the employee's treatment. The employee's treating doctor shall not otherwise participate in, impede, or advise the employee not to cooperate with the examination. In initially scheduling the examination, a reasonable attempt shall be made to accommodate the schedule of the treating doctor if the employee wants the treating doctor to attend the examination and the treating doctor is willing to do so. However, once an examination is scheduled based on the treating doctor's availability, the examination shall not be delayed, canceled, or rescheduled due to the treating doctor's scheduling conflicts unless:
(1) the required medical examination (RME) doctor agrees to the rescheduling; or
(2) the examination was canceled by the RME doctor.
(d) If the RME doctor, selected by a carrier, refuses to allow the treating doctor to attend the examination, the carrier shall cancel the appointment and request that another doctor be approved for the RME. If reasonable notice is not provided to the employee and the employee's representative (if any), the carrier shall be liable for any reasonable travel expenses incurred by the employee and for the payment for the treating doctor's attendance at a refused appointment. This subsection shall not apply to situations where the treating doctor is not able to attend the examination due to any form of scheduling conflict.
(e) An RME doctor, selected by the carrier or the Division, who conducts an examination regarding the appropriateness of the health care received by the employee, shall complete a medical report that includes objective findings of the examination and an analysis that explains how the medical condition and objective findings lead to the conclusion reached by the doctor. In addition, the RME doctor shall file the report with the insurance carrier by facsimile or electronic transmission, and shall file the report with the employee and the employee's representative (if any) by facsimile or by electronic transmission if the RME doctor has been provided with a facsimile number or email address for the recipient, otherwise, the RME doctor shall send the report by other verifiable means. Written notice is verifiable when it is provided from any source in a manner that reasonably confirms delivery to the party. This may include an acknowledged receipt by the injured employee or insurance carrier, a statement of personal delivery, confirmed by e-mail, confirmed delivery by facsimile, or some other confirmed delivery to the home or business address. The goal of this requirement is not to regulate how a system participant makes delivery of a report or other information to another system participant, but to ensure that the system participant filing the report or providing the information has verifiable proof that it was delivered.
(f) An RME doctor who, subsequent to a designated doctor's examination, determines the employee has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) or who assigns an impairment rating, shall complete and file the report as required by § 130.1 and § 130.3 of this title (relating to Certification of Maximum Medical Improvement and Evaluation of Permanent Impairment and Certification of Maximum Medical Improvement and Evaluation of Permanent Impairment by Doctor Other than the Treating Doctor). Otherwise, the RME doctor shall not certify MMI or assign an impairment rating. If the RME doctor disagrees with the designated doctor's opinion regarding MMI, the RME doctor's report shall explain why the RME doctor believes the designated doctor was mistaken or why the designated doctor's opinion is no longer valid. Other reports shall be completed in the form and manner prescribed by the Division and shall be sent to the carrier, the employee, the employee's representative, if any, the treating doctor, and Division no later than 10 days after the examination.
(g) An RME doctor who, subsequent to a designated doctor's examination, determines that the employee can return to work immediately with or without restrictions is required to file a Work Status Report, as described in § 129.5 of this title (relating to Work Status Reports) within seven days of the date of the examination of the employee. This report shall be filed with the treating doctor and the carrier by facsimile or electronic transmission. In addition, the RME doctor shall file the report with the employee and the employee's representative (if any) by facsimile or by electronic transmission if the RME doctor has been provided with a facsimile number or email address for the recipient, otherwise, the RME doctor shall send the report by other verifiable means.
(h) An RME doctor who, subsequent to a designated doctor's examination, addresses issues other than those listed in subsections (f) and (g) of this section, shall file a narrative report within seven days of the date of the examination of the employee. This report shall be filed with the treating doctor and the carrier by facsimile or electronic transmission. In addition, the RME doctor shall file the report with the employee and the employee's representative (if any) by facsimile or by electronic transmission if the RME doctor has been provided with a facsimile number or email address for the recipient, otherwise, the RME doctor shall send the report by other verifiable means.
(i) A doctor who conducts an examination solely under the authority of this rule shall not be considered a designated doctor under the Labor Code § 408.0041, § 408.122 or § 408.125. Examinations with a designated doctor are not subject to any limitations under the provisions for RMEs.
(j) A carrier may suspend temporary income benefits (TIBs) if an employee, without good cause, fails to attend an RME required pursuant to Labor Code § 408.0041(f).
(1) In the absence of a finding by the Division to the contrary, a carrier may presume that the employee did not have good cause to fail to attend the examination if by the day the examination was originally scheduled to occur the employee has both:
(A) failed to submit to the examination; and
(B) failed to contact the RME doctor's office to reschedule the examination in accordance with subsection (b) of this section.
(2) If, after the carrier suspends TIBs pursuant to this section, the employee contacts the RME doctor to reschedule the examination, the RME doctor shall reschedule the examination as soon as possible, but not later than the 30th day after the employee contacted the doctor. The insurance carrier shall re-initiate TIBs effective as of the date the employee submitted to the examination. The re-initiation of TIBs shall occur no later than the seventh day following:
(A) the date the carrier was notified that the employee attended the examination; or
(B) the date that the carrier was notified that the Division found that the employee had good cause for not attending the examination.
(3) An employee is not entitled to TIBs for a period during which the carrier was entitled to suspend benefits pursuant to this section unless the employee later submits to the examination and the Division finds or the carrier determines that the employee had good cause to fail to attend the appointment.
(k) An employee who, without good cause, fails or refuses to appear at the time scheduled for an examination authorized by this section may be assessed an administrative penalty under Labor Code § 408.004 and § 408.0041. An employee who fails to submit to an examination at the carrier's request when the carrier selected doctor refuses to allow the treating doctor to attend the examination or when the RME doctor cancels the examination does not commit an administrative violation.
(l) The Division shall require examinations requiring travel of up to 75 miles from the employee's residence, unless the treating doctor certifies that such travel may be harmful to the employee's recovery. Travel over 75 miles may be authorized if good cause exists to support such travel. The carrier shall pay reasonable travel expenses incurred by the employee in submitting to any required medical examination, as specified in Chapter 134 of this title (relating to Benefits--Guidelines For Medical Service, Charges, and Payments).
(m) This section is effective on January 1, 2007 and a request for an RME under this section may be made on or after January 1, 2007.
The provisions of this § 126.6 adopted to be effective January 30, 1991, 16 TexReg 313; amended to be effective January 1, 1998, 22 TexReg 11693; amended to be effective December 26, 1999, 24 TexReg 11399; amended to be effective January 2, 2002, 26 TexReg 10899; amended to be effective January 1, 2007, 31 TexReg 6351.