Christopher Taylor v. RGS Electrical, Inc., IAB Hearing No. 1322587 (August 12, 2011)
Claimant filed a Petition to Determine Additional Compensation Due seeking benefits for an 11% permanent impairment to his thoracic spine, as rated by Dr. Stephen Rodgers. Dr. Rodgers rated the impairment using the DRE Method set forth in the Fifth Edition of the AMA Guides. Dr. Rodgers placed Claimant in DRE Category II, based primarily on evidence of herniated discs, without radicular symptoms. Dr. Rodgers placed Claimant at the high end of the DRE Category II range, which resulted in an 8% whole person rating, due to multi-level abnormal findings with respect to Claimant's thoracic spine. Dr. Rodgers applied the lumbar spine conversion factor to arrive at a regional impairment rating of 11% to the thoracic spine.
On behalf of Employer, Dr. G. Dean MacEwen, rated a 6% permanency to Claimant's thoracic spine using the Sixth Edition of the AMA Guides. Dr. MacEwen placed Claimant at the upper end of the range for Class I, which is for thoracic spine injuries without neurological involvement. Dr. MacEwen asserted that the 6% rating was already regionalized, so he did not need to apply a conversion factor. The Board found Dr. MacEwen's rating and use of the Sixth Edition more appropriate in this case, due to the relatively minor injury suffered by Claimant and lack of radicular symptoms. However, the Board held that the 6% rating offered by Dr. MacEwen was a whole person rating that needed to be converted to a regional rating, according to the Clarifications and Corrections to the Sixth Edition of the AMA Guides. Therefore, the Board applied the lumbar spine conversion factor of 0.75, to arrive at the regional thoracic spine rating of 8%.