Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Finds Psychologist Qualified under Section 12 of the Act to perform an Independent Medical Examination

Following petitioner’s objection to the scheduling of a comprehensive pain management IME, a hearing was held before the IWCC pursuant to I&F’s Motion to Compel and Enforce Rights Under Section 12.  This case was a long-settled matter in which petitioner retained his rights under Section 8(a) for future medical care.  At issue specifically was petitioner’s objection and argument that a psychologist who holds a Ph.D., but not a medical license, is not qualified under Section 12 of the Act to perform an Independent Medical Examination. The relevant language in Section 12 of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act requires an employee, if requested by the employer, to submit to an examination by a duly qualified “medical practitioner or surgeon”. 820 ILCS 350/12 (2013).  He also correctly pointed out that the term “medical practitioner” is not defined in the statute.

Citing Texaco-Cities Service Pipeline Co. v. Sam McGaw, the Commission noted that, “Each undefined word in a statute must be ascribed its ordinary and popularly understood meaning.”  Texaco-Cities Service Pipeline Co. v. Sam McGaw, 182 Ill. 2d 262, 270 (1998).  The Commission stated that “the ordinary and popular understanding of the word “practitioner”is one who practices a profession and a “medical practitioner” is one who practices a profession in the medical field.”  The Commission noted that I&F argued that the professional activities of Dr. Neil Mahoney, Ph.D., include diagnosing and treating the disease of the brain, emotional disturbances, and behaviors.”  Agreeing with I&F’s argument, the Commission held that given Dr. Mahoney’s professional responsibilities, they would be “hard pressed to find Dr. Mahoney is not a medical practitioner under the Act.”  In so holding, the Commission rejected the argument of the petitioner that the term “medical practitioner” is limited to either a medical doctor or a Doctor of Osteopathy and distinguished the instant situation from that presented in the case of W.B. Olson v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission where it was held that a physical therapist is not a medical practitioner in light of the fact that physical therapy is administered under the prescription and supervision of a physician.

The full text of the decision can be found at the following link: fesanco-v-snap-on

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