§ 28-30-22. Medical advisory board.
(a) The chief judge of the workers' compensation court, in consultation with the appropriate medical or professional association, shall appoint a medical advisory board that shall serve at the chief judge's pleasure and consist of eleven (11) members in the following specialties: one orthopedic surgeon; one neurologist; one physiatrist; one chiropractor; one physical therapist; one internist; one psychiatrist or psychologist; and four (4) ad hoc physician members appointed at the discretion of the chief judge. Members of the board shall be reimbursed five hundred dollars ($500) per day served in the discharge of the board's duties, not to exceed six thousand dollars ($6,000) per member in any year. The chief judge shall designate the chairperson of the board.
(b) The chief judge is authorized, with the advice of the medical advisory board, to do the following:
(1)(i) Adopt and review protocols and standards of treatment for compensable injury, which shall address types, frequency, modality, duration, and termination of treatment, and types and frequency of diagnostic procedures.
(ii) Within thirty (30) days of its establishment, the medical advisory board shall prepare a recommended standard for the consideration and weighing by the court of medical evidence, including, but not limited to, medical test results, objective clinical findings, subjective complaints supported by tests for inconsistency, and purely subjective complaints, with the purposes of assuring treatment and compensation for legitimate, compensable injuries; reducing litigation, inefficiency, and delay in court proceedings; and deterring false or exaggerated claims of injury. The standards shall be applicable to proceedings before the workers' compensation court, including specifically those to determine the nature and extent of injury and the achievement of maximum medical improvement, and shall be effective in all proceedings when adopted by the court.
(2) Approve and promulgate rules, regulations, and procedures concerning the appointment and qualifications of comprehensive, independent health-care-review teams that would be composed of any combination of one or more health-care provider(s), rehabilitation expert(s), physical therapist(s), occupational therapist(s), psychologist(s), and vocational rehabilitation counselor(s).
(3) Approve and administer procedures to disqualify or disapprove medical service providers and maintain the approved provider list.
(4) Appoint an administrator of the medical advisory board.
(5) Approve and promulgate rules, regulations, and procedures concerning the appointment and qualifications of impartial medical examiners.
(6) Annually review the performance of each comprehensive, independent health-care-review team and impartial medical examiner.
(c) The administrator of the medical advisory board is authorized and directed to establish terms and conditions for comprehensive, independent health-care-review teams and impartial medical examiners to apply for approval by the medical advisory board and to perform any other duties as directed by the board.
(d) Any reference to an impartial medical examiner in chapters 29 38 of this title shall be deemed to include the impartial medical examiners and comprehensive, independent health-care-review teams referred to in subsection (b) of this section.
(e)(1) Disqualification of medical-care providers. Every health-care provider licensed in the state of Rhode Island shall be presumed to be qualified to provide health care services for injuries compensable under this title and may recover costs of treatment consistent with established fee and cost schedules. The administrator of the medical advisory board is thereafter authorized to disqualify and/or suspend any qualified provider based upon one or more of the following:
(i) The violation of the protocols and standards of care established by the medical advisory board;
(ii) The filing of affidavits that are untimely, inadequate, incomplete, or untruthful;
(iii) The provision of unnecessary and/or inappropriate treatment;
(iv) A pattern of violation and/or evasion of an approved fee schedule;
(v) The censure or discipline of the provider by the licensing body of the provider's profession;
(vi) The billing of, or pursuing collection efforts against, the employee for treatment or diagnostic tests causally related to an injury not deemed non-compensable by the workers' compensation court.
(2) Upon disqualification or during suspension, the provider shall not be permitted to recover any costs or fees for treatment provided under this title. The appropriate body with professional disciplinary authority over the provider shall be notified of any such action. Appeal of disqualification or suspension shall be to the medical advisory board, with final review by the workers' compensation court.
(3) If unnecessary or inappropriate treatment is provided by an entity affiliated with the treating physician, the administrator of the medical advisory board may increase the penalty for a violation.
(4) This section shall not prevent the recovery of reasonable costs for immediate emergency care rendered by a provider.
(f) As a guide to the interpretation and application of this section, the policy and intent of this legislature is declared to be that every person who suffers a compensable injury with resulting disability should be provided with high-quality medical care and the opportunity to return to gainful employment as soon as possible with minimal dependence on compensation awards.
(P.L. 1992, ch. 31, § 4; P.L. 2000, ch. 109, § 33; P.L. 2001, ch. 256, § 2; P.L. 2001, ch. 355, § 2; P.L. 2015, ch. 104, § 1; P.L. 2015, ch. 116, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 470, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 473, § 1.)