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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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§9792.7. Utilization Review Standards--Applicability

(a) Effective January 1, 2004, every claims administrator shall establish and maintain a utilization review process for treatment rendered on or after January 1, 2004, regardless of date of injury, in compliance with Labor Code section 4610. Each utilization review process shall be set forth in a utilization review plan which shall contain:

(1) The name, address, phone number, and medical license number of the employed or designated medical director, who holds an unrestricted license to practice medicine in the state of California issued pursuant to section 2050 or section 2450 of the Business and Professions Code.

(2) A description of the process whereby requests for authorization are reviewed, and decisions on such requests are made, and a description of the process for handling expedited reviews.

(3) A description of the specific criteria utilized routinely in the review and throughout the decision-making process, including treatment protocols or standards used in the process. A description of the personnel and other sources used in the development and review of the criteria, and methods for updating the criteria. Prior to and until the Administrative Director adopts a medical treatment utilization schedule pursuant to Labor Code section 5307.27, the written policies and procedures governing the utilization review process shall be consistent with the recommended standards set forth in the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine's Occupational Medicine Practice Guidelines, Second Edition. The Administrative Director incorporates by reference the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine's Occupational Medicine Practice Guidelines (ACOEM), Second Edition (2004), published by OEM Press. A copy may be obtained from OEM Press, 8 West Street, Beverly Farms, Massachusetts 01915 (www.oempress.com). After the Administrative Director adopts a medical treatment utilization schedule pursuant to Labor Code section 5307.27, the written policies and procedures governing the utilization review process shall be consistent with the recommended standards set forth in that schedule.

(4) A description of the qualifications and functions of the personnel involved in decision-making and implementation of the utilization review plan.

(5) A description of the claims administrator's practice, if applicable, of any prior authorization process, including but not limited to, where authorization is provided without the submission of the request for authorization.

(b)(1) The medical director shall ensure that the process by which the claims administrator reviews and approves, modifies, delays, or denies requests by physicians prior to, retrospectively, or concurrent with the provision of medical services, complies with Labor Code section 4610 and these implementing regulations.

(2) A reviewer who is competent to evaluate the specific clinical issues involved in the medical treatment services, and where these services are within the reviewer's scope of practice, may, except as indicated below, delay, modify or deny, requests for authorization of medical treatment for reasons of medical necessity to cure or relieve the effects of the industrial injury.

(3) A non-physician reviewer may be used to initially apply specified criteria to requests for authorization for medical services. A non-physician reviewer may approve requests for authorization of medical services. A non-physician reviewer may discuss applicable criteria with the requesting physician, should the treatment for which authorization is sought appear to be inconsistent with the criteria. In such instances, the requesting physician may voluntarily withdraw a portion or all of the treatment in question and submit an amended request for treatment authorization, and the non-physician reviewer may approve the amended request for treatment authorization. Additionally, a non-physician reviewer may reasonably request appropriate additional information that is necessary to render a decision but in no event shall this exceed the time limitations imposed in section 9792.9 subdivisions (b)(1), (b)(2) or (c). Any time beyond the time specified in these paragraphs is subject to the provisions of subdivision (g)(1)(A) through (g)(1)(C) of section 9792.9.

(c) The complete utilization review plan, consisting of the policies and procedures, and a description of the utilization review process, shall be filed by the claims administrator, or by the external utilization review organization contracted by the claims administrator to perform the utilization review, with the Administrative Director. In lieu of filing the utilization review plan, the claims administrator may submit a letter identifying the external utilization review organization which has been contracted to perform the utilization review functions, provided that the utilization review organization has filed a complete utilization review plan with the Administrative Director. A modified utilization review plan shall be filed with the Administrative Director within 30 calendar days after the claims administrator makes a material modification to the plan.

(d) Upon request by the public, the claims administrator shall make available the complete utilization review plan, consisting of the policies and procedures, and a description of the utilization review process.

(1) The claims administrator may make available the complete utilization review plan, consisting of the policies and procedures and a description of the utilization review process, through electronic means. If a member of the public requests a hard copy of the utilization review plan, the claims administrator may charge reasonable copying and postage expenses related to disclosing the complete utilization review plan. Such charge shall not exceed $0.25 per page plus actual postage costs.

NOTE

Authority cited: Sections 133, 4603.5 and 5307.3, Labor Code. Reference: Sections 4062, 4600, 4600.4, 4604.5 and 4610, Labor Code.

HISTORY

1. New section filed 12-9-2004 as an emergency; operative 12-13-2004 (Register 2004, No. 50). A Certificate of Compliance must be transmitted to OAL by 4-12-2005 or emergency language will be repealed by operation of law on the following day.

2. New section refiled 4-6-2005 as an emergency; operative 4-12-2005 (Register 2005, No. 14). A Certificate of Compliance must be transmitted to OAL by 8-10-2005 or emergency language will be repealed by operation of law on the following day.

3. Certificate of Compliance as to 4-6-2005 order, including amendment of section, transmitted to OAL 8-10-2005 and filed 9-22-2005 (Register 2005, No. 38).

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