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Chapter 4.5. Division of Workers' Compensation
Subchapter 1. Administrative Director--Administrative Rules
Article 5.5.1. Utilization Review Standards
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§9792.9.1. Uilization Review Standards - Timeframe, Procedures and Notice - On or After January 1, 2013.

This section applies to any request for authorization of medical treatment, submitted under Article 5.5.1 of this Subchapter, for either: (1) an occupational injury or illness occurring on or after January 1, 2013; or (2) where the decision on the request is communicated to the requesting physician on or after July 1, 2013, regardless of the date of injury.
(a) The request for authorization for a course of treatment as defined in section 9792.6.1(d) must be in written form set forth on the “Request for Authorization (DWC Form RFA),” as contained in California Code of Regulations, title 8, section 9785.5.
(1) For purposes of this section, the DWC Form RFA shall be deemed to have been received by the claims administrator or its utilization review organization by facsimile or by electronic mail on the date the form was received if the receiving facsimile or electronic mail address electronically date stamps the transmission when received. If there is no electronically stamped date recorded, then the date the form was transmitted shall be deemed to be the date the form was received by the claims administrator or the claims administrator's utilization review organization. A DWC Form RFA transmitted by facsimile after 5:30 PM Pacific Time shall be deemed to have been received by the claims administrator on the following business day, except in the case of an expedited or concurrent review. The copy of the DWC Form RFA or the cover sheet accompanying the form transmitted by a facsimile transmission or by electronic mail shall bear a notation of the date, time and place of transmission and the facsimile telephone number or the electronic mail address to which the form was transmitted or the form shall be accompanied by an unsigned copy of the affidavit or certificate of transmission, or by a fax or electronic mail transmission report, which shall display the facsimile telephone number to which the form was transmitted. The requesting physician must indicate if there is the need for an expedited review on the DWC Form RFA

(2)(A) Where the DWC Form RFA is sent by mail, the form, absent documentation of receipt, shall be deemed to have been received by the claims administrator five (5) business days after the deposit in the mail at a facility regularly maintained by the United States Postal Service.
(B) Where the DWC Form RFA is delivered via certified mail, with return receipt mail, the form, absent documentation of receipt, shall be deemed to have been received by the claims administrator on the receipt date entered on the return receipt.
(C) In the absence of documentation of receipt, evidence of mailing, or a dated return receipt, the DWC Form RFA shall be deemed to have been received by the claims administrator five days after the latest date the sender wrote on the document.

(3) Every claims administrator shall maintain telephone access and have a representative personally available by telephone from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM Pacific Time, on business days for health care providers to request authorization for medical services. Every claims administrator shall have a facsimile number available for physicians to request authorization for medical services. Every claims administrator shall maintain a process to receive communications from health care providers requesting authorization for medical services after business hours. For purposes of this section the requirement that the claims administrator maintain a process to receive communications from requesting physicians after business hours shall be satisfied by maintaining a voice mail system or a facsimile number or a designated email address for after business hours requests.

(b) Utilization review of a medical treatment request made on the DWC Form RFA may be deferred if the claims administrator disputes liability for either the occupational injury for which the treatment is recommended or the recommended treatment itself on grounds other than medical necessity.
(1) If the claims administrator disputes liability under this subdivision, it may, no later than five (5) business days from receipt of the DWC Form RFA, issue a written decision deferring utilization review of the requested treatment unless the requesting physician has been previously notified under this subdivision of a dispute over liability and an explanation for the deferral of utilization review for a specific course of treatment. The written decision must be sent to the requesting physician, the injured worker, and if the injured worker is represented by counsel, the injured worker's attorney. The written decision shall contain the following information specific to the request:
(A) The date on which the DWC Form RFA was first received.
(B) A description of the specific course of proposed medical treatment for which authorization was requested.
(C) A clear, concise, and appropriate explanation of the reason for the claims administrator's dispute of liability for either the injury, claimed body part or parts, or the recommended treatment.
(D) A plain language statement advising the injured employee that any dispute under this subdivision shall be resolved either by agreement of the parties or through the dispute resolution process of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board.
(E) The following mandatory language advising the injured employee:
“You have a right to disagree with decisions affecting your claim. If you have questions about the information in this notice, please call me (insert claims adjuster's name in parentheses) at (insert telephone number). However, if you are represented by an attorney, please contact your attorney instead of me.
and
“For information about the workers' compensation claims process and your rights and obligations, go to www.dwc.ca.gov or contact an information and assistance (I&A) officer of the state Division of Workers' Compensation. For recorded information and a list of offices, call toll-free 1-800-736-7401.”
(2) If utilization review is deferred pursuant to this subdivision, and it is finally determined that the claims administrator is liable for treatment of the condition for which treatment is recommended, either by decision of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board or by agreement between the parties, the time for the claims administrator to conduct retrospective utilization review in accordance with this section shall begin on the date the determination of the claims administrator's liability becomes final. The time for the claims administrator to conduct prospective utilization review shall commence from the date of the claims administrator's receipt of a DWC Form RFA after the final determination of liability.

(c) Unless additional information is requested necessitating an extension under subdivision (f), the utilization review process shall meet the following timeframe requirements:
(1) The first day in counting any timeframe requirement is the day after the receipt of the DWC Form RFA, except when the timeline is measured in hours. Whenever the timeframe requirement is stated in hours, the time for compliance is counted in hours from the time of receipt of the DWC Form RFA

(2)(A) Upon receipt of a request for authorization as described in subdivision (c)(2)(B), or a DWC Form RFA that does not identify the employee or provider, does not identify a recommended treatment, is not accompanied by documentation substantiating the medical necessity for the requested treatment, or is not signed by the requesting physician, a non-physician reviewer as allowed by section 9792.7 or reviewer must either regard the request as a complete DWC Form RFA and comply with the timeframes for decision set forth in this section or return it to the requesting physician marked “not complete,” specifying the reasons for the return of the request no later than five (5) business days from receipt. The timeframe for a decision on a returned request for authorization shall begin anew upon receipt of a completed DWC Form RFA.
(B) The claims administrator may accept a request for authorization for medical treatment that does not utilize the DWC Form RFA, provided that: (1) “Request for Authorization” is clearly written at the top of the first page of the document; (2) all requested medical services, goods, or items are listed on the first page; and (3) the request is accompanied by documentation substantiating the medical necessity for the requested treatment.

(3) Prospective or concurrent decisions to approve, modify, delay, or deny a request for authorization shall be made in a timely fashion that is appropriate for the nature of the injured worker's condition, not to exceed five (5) business days from the date of receipt of the completed DWC Form RFA.

(4) Prospective or concurrent decisions to approve, modify, delay, or deny a request for authorization related to an expedited review shall be made in a timely fashion appropriate to the injured worker's condition, not to exceed 72 hours after the receipt of the written information reasonably necessary to make the determination. The requesting physician must certify in writing and document the need for an expedited review upon submission of the request. A request for expedited review that is not reasonably supported by evidence establishing that the injured worker faces an imminent and serious threat to his or her health, or that the timeframe for utilization review under subdivision (c)(3) would be detrimental to the injured worker's condition, shall be reviewed by the claims administrator under the timeframe set forth in subdivision (c)(3).

(5) Retrospective decisions to approve modify, delay, or deny a request for authorization shall be made within 30 days of receipt of the request for authorization and medical information that is reasonably necessary to make a determination.

(d) Decisions to approve a request for authorization.
(1) All decisions to approve a request for authorization shall specify the specific the date the complete request for authorization was received medical treatment service requested, the specific medical treatment service approved, and the date of the decision

(2) For prospective, concurrent, or expedited review, approvals shall be communicated to the requesting physician within 24 hours of the decision, and shall be communicated to the requesting physician initially by telephone, facsimile, or electronic mail. The communication by telephone shall be followed by written notice to the requesting physician within 24 hours of the decision for concurrent review and within two (2) business days for prospective review

(3)(A) For retrospective review, a written decision to approve shall be communicated to the requesting physician who provided the medical services and to the individual who received the medical services, and his or her attorney/designee, if applicable.
(B) Payment, or partial payment consistent with the provisions of California Code of Regulations, title 8, section 9792.5, of a medical bill for services requested on the DWC Form RFA, within the 30-day timeframe set forth in subdivision (c)(5), shall be deemed a retrospective approval, even if a portion of the medical bill for the requested services is contested, denied, or considered incomplete. A document indicating that a payment has been made for the requested services, such as an explanation of review, may be provided to the injured employee who received the medical services, and his or her attorney/designee, if applicable, in lieu of a communication expressly acknowledging the retrospective approval.

(e) Decisions to modify, delay, or deny a request for authorization.
(1) The review and decision to deny, delay, or modify a request for medical treatment must be conducted by a reviewer, who is competent to evaluate the specific clinical issues involved in the medical treatment services, and where these services are within the scope of the individual's practice

(2) Failure to obtain authorization prior to providing emergency health care services shall not be an acceptable basis for refusal to cover medical services provided to treat and stabilize an injured worker presenting for emergency health care services. Emergency health care services may be subjected to retrospective review. Documentation for emergency health care services shall be made available to the claims administrator upon request

(3) For prospective, concurrent, or expedited review, a decision to modify, delay, or deny shall be communicated to the requesting physician within 24 hours of the decision, and shall be communicated to the requesting physician initially by telephone, facsimile, or electronic mail. The communication by telephone shall be followed by written notice to the requesting physician, the injured worker, and if the injured worker is represented by counsel, the injured worker's attorney within 24 hours of the decision for concurrent review and within two (2) business days for prospective review and for expedited review within 72 hours of receipt of the request

(4) For retrospective review, a written decision to deny part or all of the requested medical treatment shall be communicated to the requesting physician who provided the medical services and to the individual who received the medical services, and his or her attorney/designee, if applicable, within 30 days of receipt of request for authorization and medical information that is reasonably necessary to make a determination

(5) The written decision modifying, delaying or denying treatment authorization shall be provided to the requesting physician, the injured worker, the injured worker's representative, and if the injured worker is represented by counsel, the injured worker's attorney. The written decision shall be signed by either the claims administrator or the reviewer, and shall only contain the following information specific to the request:
(A) The date on which the DWC Form RFA was first received.
(B) The date on which the decision is made.
(C) A description of the specific course of proposed medical treatment for which authorization was requested.
(D) A list of all medical records reviewed.
(E) A specific description of the medical treatment service approved, if any.
(F) A clear, concise, and appropriate explanation of the reasons for the reviewing physician's decision, including the clinical reasons regarding medical necessity and a description of the relevant medical criteria or guidelines used to reach the decision pursuant to section 9792.8. If a utilization review decision to modify, deny or delay a medical service is due to incomplete or insufficient information, the decision shall specify the reason for the decision and specify the information that is needed.
(G) The Application for Independent Medical Review, DWC Form IMR. All fields of the form, except for the signature of the employee, must be completed by the claims administrator. The written decision provided to the injured worker, shall include an addressed envelope, which may be postage-paid for mailing to the Administrative Director or his or her designee. Prior to March 1, 2014, any version of the DWC Form IMR adopted by the Administrative Director under section 9792.10.2 may be used by the claims administrator in a written decision modifying, delaying or denying treatment authorization.
(H) A clear statement advising the injured employee that any dispute shall be resolved in accordance with the independent medical review provisions of Labor Code section 4610.5 and 4610.6, and that an objection to the utilization review decision must be communicated by the injured worker, the injured worker's representative, or the injured worker's attorney on behalf of the injured worker on the enclosed Application for Independent Medical Review, DWC Form IMR, within 30 calendar days after service of the decision.
(I) Include the following mandatory language advising the injured employee:
“You have a right to disagree with decisions affecting your claim. If you have questions about the information in this notice, please call me (insert claims adjuster's or appropriate contact's name in parentheses) at (insert telephone number). However, if you are represented by an attorney, please contact your attorney instead of me.
and
“For information about the workers' compensation claims process and your rights and obligations, go to www.dwc.ca.gov or contact an information and assistance (I&A) officer of the state Division of Workers' Compensation. For recorded information and a list of offices, call toll-free 1-800-736-7401.”
(J) Details about the claims administrator's internal utilization review appeals process for the requesting physician, if any, and a clear statement that the internal appeals process is voluntary process that neither triggers nor bars use of the dispute resolution procedures of Labor Code section 4610.5 and 4610.6, but may be pursued on an optional basis.

(K) The written decision modifying, delaying or denying treatment authorization provided to the requesting physician shall also contain the name and specialty of the reviewer or expert reviewer, and the telephone number in the United States of the reviewer or expert reviewer. The written decision shall also disclose the hours of availability of either the reviewer, the expert reviewer or the medical director for the treating physician to discuss the decision which shall be, at a minimum, four (4) hours per week during normal business hours, 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM., Pacific Time or an agreed upon scheduled time to discuss the decision with the requesting physician. In the event the reviewer is unavailable, the requesting physician may discuss the written decision with another reviewer who is competent to evaluate the specific clinical issues involved in the medical treatment services.
(6) The following requirements shall be met prior to a concurrent review decision to deny authorization for medical treatment:
(A) Medical care shall not be discontinued until the requesting physician has been notified of the decision and a care plan has been agreed upon by the requesting physician that is appropriate for the medical needs of the employee
(B) Medical care provided during a concurrent review shall be treatment that is medically necessary to cure or relieve from the effects of the industrial injury.

(f)(1) The timeframe for decisions specified in subdivision (c) may only be extended under one or more of the following circumstances:
(A) The claims administrator or reviewer is not in receipt of all of the information reasonably necessary to make a determination

(B) The reviewer has asked that an additional examination or test be performed upon the injured worker that is reasonable and consistent with professionally recognized standards of medical practice

(C) The reviewer needs a specialized consultation and review of medical information by an expert reviewer.

(2)(A) If the circumstance under subdivision (f)(1)(A) applies, a reviewer or non-physician reviewer shall request the information from the treating physician within five (5) business days from the date of receipt of the request for authorization.
(B) If any of the circumstances set forth in subdivisions (f)(1)(B) or (C) are deemed to apply following the receipt of a DWC Form RFA or accepted request for authorization, the reviewer shall within five (5) business days from the date of receipt of the request for authorization notify the requesting physician, the injured worker, and if the injured worker is represented by counsel, the injured worker's attorney in writing, that the reviewer cannot make a decision within the required timeframe, and request, as applicable, the additional examinations or tests required, or the specialty of the expert reviewer to be consulted. The reviewer shall also notify the requesting physician, the injured worker, and if the injured worker is represented by counsel, the injured worker's attorney of the anticipated date on which a decision will be rendered.

(3)(A) If the information reasonably necessary to make a determination under subdivision (f)(1)(A) that is requested by the reviewer or non-physician reviewer is not received within fourteen (14) days from receipt of the completed request for authorization for prospective or concurrent review, or within thirty (30) days of the request for retrospective review, the reviewer shall deny the request with the stated condition that the request will be reconsidered upon receipt of the information.
(B) If the results of the additional examination or test required under subdivision (f)(1)(B), or the specialized consultation under subdivision (f)(1)(C), that is requested by the reviewer under this subdivision is not received within thirty (30) days from the date of the request for authorization, the reviewer shall deny the treating physician's request with the stated condition that the request will be reconsidered upon receipt of the results of the additional examination or test or the specialized consultation.

(4) Upon receipt of the information requested pursuant to subdivisions (f)(1)(A), (B), or (C), the claims administrator or reviewer, for prospective or concurrent review, shall make the decision to approve, modify, or deny the request for authorization within five (5) business days of receipt of the information. The requesting physician shall be notified by telephone, facsimile or electronic mail within 24 hours of making the decision The written decision shall include the date the information was received and the decision shall be communicated in the manner set out in section 9792.9.1(d) or (e), whichever is applicable.

(5) Upon receipt of the information requested pursuant to subdivisions (f)(1)(A), (B), or (C), the claims administrator or reviewer, for prospective or concurrent decisions related to an expedited review, shall make the decision to approve, modify, or deny the request for authorization within 72 hours of receipt of the information. The requesting physician shall be notified by telephone, facsimile or electronic mail within 24 hours of making the decision. The written notice of decision shall include the date the requested information was received and be communicated pursuant to subdivisions (d)(2) or (e)(3), whichever is applicable.

(6) Upon receipt of the information requested pursuant to subdivisions (f)(1)(A), (B), or (C), the claims administrator or reviewer, for retrospective review, shall make the decision to approve, modify, delay, or deny the request for authorization within thirty (30) calendar days of receipt of the information requested. The decision shall include the date it was made and be communicated pursuant to subdivisions (d)(3) or (e)(4), whichever is applicable.

(g) Whenever a reviewer issues a decision to deny a request for authorization based on the lack of medical information necessary to make a determination, the claims administrator's file must document the attempt by the claims administrator or reviewer to obtain the necessary medical information from the physician either by facsimile, mail, or e-mail.

(h) A utilization review decision to modify, delay, or deny a request for authorization of medical treatment shall remain effective for 12 months from the date of the decision without further action by the claims administrator with regard to any further recommendation by the same physician for the same treatment unless the further recommendation is supported by a documented change in the facts material to the basis of the utilization review decision.
Note: Authority: Sections 133, 4603.5 and 5307.3, Labor Code. Reference: Sections 4062, 4600, 4600.4, 4604.5, 4610 and 4610.5, Labor Code.
HISTORY
1. New section filed 12-31-2012 as an emergency; operative 1-1-2013 pursuant to Government Code section 11346.1(d) (Register 2013, No. 1). A Certificate of Compliance must be transmitted to OAL by 7-1-2013 or emergency language will be repealed by operation of law on the following day.
2. New section refiled 7-1-2013 as an emergency; operative 7-1-2013 (Register 2013, No. 27). A Certificate of Compliance must be transmitted to OAL by 9-30-2013 or emergency language will be repealed by operation of law on the following day.
3. New section refiled 9-30-2013 as an emergency; operative 10-1-2013 (Register 2013, No. 40). A Certificate of Compliance must be transmitted to OAL by 12-30-2013 or emergency language will be repealed by operation of law on the following day.
4. Certificate of Compliance as to 9-30-2013 order, including amendment of section, transmitted to OAL 12-30-2013 and filed 2-12-2014; amendments effective 2-12-2014 pursuant to Government Code section 11343.4(b)(3) (Register 2014, No. 7).
This database is current through 7/25/14 Register 2014, No. 30

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