Nebraska Physician Assistant May Not Sign Medical Report

While the term, “physician,” as defined by Neb. Workers’ Comp. R. 49(O) (2018), generally includes those practicing osteopathic medicine, chiropractic, podiatry, or dentistry, it does not include a physician assistant, held the Supreme Court of Nebraska in Bower v. Eaton Corp., 301 Neb. 311, 2018 Neb. LEXIS 170 (Oct. 12, 2018). Accordingly, it was not error for the state’s Workers’ Compensation Court to disregard a medical report indicating the injured worker suffered a 15 percent permanent impairment to the right upper extremity when the report was signed by an orthopedic surgeon’s physician assistant and not by the surgeon himself.

Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Rule 10

The Court acknowledged that Neb. Workers’ Comp. R. 10 was an evidentiary rule that was less restrictive than the rules applied to trial courts in the state. Rule 10 allowed the compensation court to admit into evidence medical reports that would not normally be admissible in the trial courts of Nebraska. The only requirements for a medical report to be admissible under Rule 10 were that the report be a medical report and be signed by the physician, surgeon, vocational rehabilitation expert, physical therapist, or psychologist. Physician assistants were not listed in the rule. Therefore, the Workers’ Compensation Court appropriately failed to consider the medical report as evidence of the worker’s impairment.

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