(a) Insurance carriers, health care providers, and employers shall use the disability duration values in the current edition of The Medical Disability Advisor, Workplace Guidelines for Disability Duration, excluding all sections and tables relating to rehabilitation, (MDA), published by the Reed Group, Ltd. (Division return to work guidelines), as guidelines for the evaluation of expected or average return to work time frames.
(b) Information on how to obtain or inspect copies of the Division return to work guidelines may be found on the Division's website: www.tdi.state.tx.us.
(c) The Division return to work guidelines provide disability duration expectancies. The Division return to work guidelines shall be presumed to be a reasonable length of disability duration and shall be used by:
(1) health care providers to establish return to work goals or a return to work plan for safely returning injured employees to medically appropriate work environments;
(2) insurance carriers as a basis for requesting a designated doctor examination to resolve an issue regarding an injured employee's ability to return to work as well as a basis to initiate case management and to refer an injured employee to vocational rehabilitation providers; and
(3) employers, insurance carriers, health care providers, and injured employees to facilitate and improve communications among the parties regarding the return to work goals or plans established by health care providers.
(d) The health care provider, insurance carrier, employer, and Division may consider co-morbid conditions, medical complications, or other factors that may influence medical recoveries and disability durations as mitigating circumstances when setting return to work goals or revising expected return to work durations and goals.
(e) Disability duration values in the guidelines are not absolute values and do not represent specific lengths or periods of time at which an injured employee must return to work; the values represent points in time at which additional evaluation may take place if full medical recovery and return to work have not occurred. System participants may, however, determine additional evaluation is appropriate at any time during a claim. The disability duration values depict a continuum from the minimum time to the maximum time for most individuals to return to work following a particular injury. An insurance carrier may request additional return to work information from a health care provider at any time. An insurance carrier may not use the Division return to work guidelines as the sole justification or the only reasonable grounds for reducing, denying, suspending or terminating income benefits to an injured employee.
(f) For all diagnoses or injuries that are not addressed by the Division return to work guidelines, system participants shall establish disability duration parameters and return to work goals in accordance with the principles of evidence-based medicine as defined by Labor Code § 401.011(18-a).
(g) This section is effective on or after May 1, 2007.
The provisions of this § 137.10 adopted to be effective January 18, 2007, 32 TexReg 163.