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From The CriticsReviewer: Daniel L. Sudakin, MD, MPH(Oregon State University)
Description: This is the newest edition of the most commonly used guide for rating permanent impairments in the U.S. The previous edition was published in 1993.
Purpose: The purpose is to update the diagnostic criteria and evaluation process used in impairment assessment, incorporating the available scientific evidence and prevailing medical opinion. These are clearly worthwhile objectives given the important role that the physician assumes in the impairment assessment process.
Audience: Physicians who provide independent, unbiased assessments of an individual's medical condition and ability to perform activities of daily living are the intended audience. Other stakeholders in the disability assessment process, such as attorneys, judges, and claim adjudicators, will find this to be an important reference.
Features: A brief history of the philosophy, purpose, and appropriate use of the guides is followed by an organ system approach to the assessment of impairment. Although many new references have been incorporated in the current edition, the quantity and quality varies from chapter to chapter, and in some cases the manner in which these data have been incorporated to the guides is unclear. Most chapters rely heavily upon theoretical case examples, although these cannot simulate the complexity of an individual patient. Many tables and figures are used to supplement the text. Readers of previous editions will probably not find much difference in the content. Anatomical figures are clearly presented, yet some of the tables and figures (particularly in the upper extremity chapter) remain complex and difficult to decipher.
Assessment: There is clearly a growing need for objectivity in the assessment of impairment and disability, and this most recent edition makes some positive steps in this direction. Many readers will have an improved understanding of the complexity of this process, but will still find the current edition to be difficult to understand and implement in their practice.