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48-134.01. Independent medical examiner system; list of physicians; duties; fee schedule; selection of examiner; procedures before examiner; findings; immunity.
(1) The Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court may develop and implement an independent medical examiner system consistent with the requirements of this section. As part of such system, the compensation court by a majority vote of the judges thereof may create, maintain, and periodically validate a list of physicians that it finds to be the most qualified and to be highly experienced and competent in their specific fields of expertise and in the treatment of work-related injuries to serve as independent medical examiners from each of the health care specialties that the compensation court finds most commonly used by injured employees. The compensation court may establish a fee schedule for services rendered by independent medical examiners and may adopt and promulgate any rules and regulations considered necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.
(2) An independent medical examiner shall render medical findings on the medical condition of an employee and related issues as specified under this section. The independent medical examiner shall not be the employee's treating physician and shall not have treated the employee with respect to the injury for which the claim is being made or the benefits are being paid.
(3) If the parties to a dispute cannot agree on an independent medical examiner of their own choosing, the compensation court shall assign an independent medical examiner from the list of qualified examiners to render medical findings in any dispute relating to the medical condition of a claimant and related issues, including, but not limited to, whether the injured employee is able to perform any gainful employment temporarily or permanently, what physical restrictions, if any, would be imposed on the employee's employment, whether the injured employee has reached maximum medical improvement, the existence and extent of any permanent physical impairment, the reasonableness and necessity of any medical treatment previously provided, or to be provided, to the injured employee, and any other medical questions which may pertain to causality and relatedness of the medical condition to the employment.
(4) The compensation court may adopt and promulgate rules and regulations pertaining to the procedures before the independent medical examiner, including the parties' ability to propound questions relating to the medical condition of the employee and related issues to be submitted to the independent medical examiner. In addition to the review of records and information, the independent medical examiner may examine the employee as often as the examiner determines necessary to render medical findings on the questions propounded by the parties or by the compensation court.
(5) The independent medical examiner shall submit a written report to the compensation court, the employer, and the employee stating the examiner's medical findings on the issues raised and providing a description of findings sufficient to explain the basis of those findings. The fee for the examination and report shall be paid by the employer.
(6) The written report of the independent medical examiner's findings shall be admissible in a proceeding before the compensation court and may be received into evidence by the compensation court on its own motion.
(7) Any physician acting without malice and within the scope of the physician's duties as an independent medical examiner shall be immune from civil liability for making any report or other information available to the compensation court or for assisting in the origination, investigation, or preparation of the report or other information so provided.
Pursuant to subsection (3) of this section, the "reasonableness and necessity" of medical treatment and "causality and relatedness of the medical condition to the employment" are separate and distinct questions upon which an independent examiner may be asked to opine. Miller v. Regional West Med. Ctr., 278 Neb. 676, 722 N.W.2d 872 (2009).
This section is applicable only to medical issues arising in cases where liability has been established. Owen v. American Hydraulics, Inc., 254 Neb. 685, 578 N.W.2d 57 (1998).