Established in 1992, the Medical Advisory Board plays an integral role in the workers’ compensation system. The Board meets every four (4) to six (6) weeks and is comprised of, by statute, an orthopedic surgeon, neurologist, neurosurgeon, physiatrist, chiropractor, physical therapist, internist, psychiatrist, and three (3) ad hoc members. Currently these ad hoc members are an additional orthopedic surgeon, occupational medicine physician, and an otolaryngologist.
The Medical Advisory Board has the responsibility to establish protocols and standards of treatment for work-related injuries. The protocols are not designed as "cookbooks" of care, rather they outline options of appropriate methods and types of interventions from which physicians and other providers are to choose. Although primarily geared toward the entry level physician, i.e., the first treating physician, these protocols offer important information for all physicians, health care providers, and insurers.
The Board approved and promulgated rules, regulations, and procedures concerning the appointment and qualification of Comprehensive Independent Health Care Review Teams and Impartial Medical Examiners. A list of Impartial Medical Examiners and Independent Health Care Review Team members has been created. This list is maintained by the Medical Advisory Board and is reviewed every two years.
The Medical Advisory Board approves preferred provider networks. In Rhode Island, an injured worker has the freedom to obtain treatment from any qualified health care professional, initially. However, if the injured worker seeks to change health care providers, and the insurer has filed a preferred provider network, the injured worker must choose a physician from the employer’s network. The Board reviews each preferred provider network to determine if it provides sufficient choice to the injured worker.