The Board’s now-longstanding process re-engineering has hit on some very good ideas (Desk 32s for example) and some duds (Binding Arbitration). That being said, at their own admission, the Board has been seeking out cases where hearings are unnecessary and trying, with as much success as failure in this author’s experience, to resolve cases using Proposed Decisions and administrative “orders” as much as possible. The number of EC-81.7s — so-called “scheduling orders” — for litigation on permanency (usually SLUs) has noticeably increased; as has the Board’s use of PD-NSLs to resolve medical objections, even sometimes in cases where the issue is more complex than simply MTG compliance.
When used properly, these tools can cut back on unnecessary hearings and reduce the cost of workers’ compensation claims for both parties and the WCB.
The increased activity in PD-NSLs has also resurrected an old problem: when a medical provider tries to intervene in the legal proceedings before the Board.
Because the Board has selected medical issues as one topic for increased use of Proposed Decisions, and because medical providers are copied on those decisions, the provider, having a copy of the decision in hand, and sometimes reading it through, thinks he or she can lodge an objection. Any why shouldn’t they? The language of the decision seems clear:
In fact, the last page of these decisions contain a handy blank where the objecting party can write in their objection and return it to the Board: