What is Maximum Medical Improvement?
For those workers who have been injured, such as through an accident at work, questions can often arise on what the Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) might be. The legal definition for this terminology is “a treatment plateau at which no fundamental, functional or physiological change can be expected within reasonable medical probability in spite of continuing medical or rehabilitative procedures.”
What this means in layman’s terms is that the person’s physical state cannot be improved or decreased, and that change in either direction will likely not occur. This methodology is primarily used for personal injury claims. As mentioned previously, it is to notate that a treatment plan can go no further, and as such, the treatment is considered to be finished. Although, you may still have assistive devices, medications, physical therapy, and so on; for all intents and purposes, because of your basic health functioning has reached a plateau, you will not require additional treatment.
Example of MMI in Practice
While working at a restaurant, a worker slips on leftover water from recent janitorial services and hurts his lower back. During the initial examination the doctor believes that he will require extended physical therapy for exactly seven months. After the seven month period, the worker’s back has improved dramatically, but the pain has not gone away completely.
After an additional examination, the worker’s doctor concludes that the injury will never be without pain and a recommendation is made that the worker utilizes pain medication, a heating pad, or other self-induced offerings. However, despite the fact that the worker’s pain will continue, because no other additional treatment methodology is available, Maximum Medical Improvement has been reached.
Importance of MMI
After understanding what Maximum Medical Improvement, one may also wonder why it is important in the first place. In short, MMI can coincide with a personal injury case as it gives an estimate to both attorneys regarding care and damages. On the plaintiff’s end, MMI can better indicate pain, suffering, list wages, and overall medical costs – all of which will help indicate the future damages of the injury that has incurred. Before reaching MMI, a settlement would be hard to determine as there is still the potential for more treatment to arise and thus, create more potential costs.
Since each state has different rules and guidelines when it comes to Maximum Medical Improvement, it is essential to consider Texas and this legal term. When examining Texas worker’s compensation claims, doctors will have to use the Medical Disability Advisor (MDA) or the Official Disability Guidelines (ODG) when deciding when to determine whether or not a patient has reached MMI. Both of these offer a specific timeline and duration for when MMI will be considered. For example, if the MDA indicates that the average recovery time for a back injury may be 60 days, then this might be the timeline that is utilized.
With this in mind, one should consider asking questions from your personal injury attorney or medical practitioner if you have any questions.
For more information about MMI or Impairment rating click here- http://www.tdi.texas.gov/wc/rules/documents/wcrules.pdf
Baumgartner Law Firm
6711 Cypress Creek Pkwy
Houston, Texas 77069