The California Workers’ Compensation (WC) system was initially established in 1911, as a voluntary plan by California employers to care for employees injured on the job. The California legislature passed the Boynton Act in 1913 requiring most employers to have WC coverage. The Workers’ Compensation Insurance and Safety Act replaced the Boynton Act in 1917. Today, California has one of the largest and best run Workers’ Compensation systems in the United States.
Years ago, I used to be an active Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME) in Urology. With the continuing growth of my urology practice and the time restraints created by it, I was forced to suspend my activities as a QME in Urology. About three years ago, I was encouraged by a retiring colleague of mine, who was a long-time respected QME in Urology, to restart serving as a QME in Urology as there was a need for more QME’s in Urology. I accepted his advice and passed the California QME exam in April 2012. The State of California certified me as QME #118591 in July 2012 and shortly thereafter, I started evaluating WC patients as a QME in Urology and as an Agreed Medical Evaluator (AME).
Being a QME in Urology has added another dimension to my urology practice. The majority of the WC patients I evaluate are genuine, hard-working and decent people with well documented and proven work-related injuries that have left them with disabilities of temporary or permanent nature. Most of the injured workers I treat are young to middle-aged men and women. They are motivated and eager to return to gainful employment. In my opinion, the notion among some providers not familiar with this system, that the injured workers are using the WC system to get financial and other benefits is unfounded. There are effective checks and balances in the WC system, including the important role played by the QME’s and AME’s providing expert opinions, that root out disingenuous claimants who do not meet the criteria to be considered qualified injured workers.
I am glad that I heeded the advice of my colleague to become active as a QME in Urology again. I have already helped numerous injured men and women by resolving their lingering work-related urological problems, in the process improving their quality of life and allowing them to return to gainful employment.
Garo M. Tertzakian, M.D.