SALT LAKE CITY, July 11, 2012 -- In a document released this morning, and at a meeting of its Workers' Compensation Advisory Council, the Utah Labor Commission provided findings and summary of its actions to implement recommendations of a recent independent audit report regarding Administrative Law Judges' (ALJ) communications with workers’ compensation medical panels.
On June 14, the Utah Labor Commission informed workers’ compensation stakeholders of concerns regarding these communications. Specifically, the Commission advised that, in some cases ALJs had rejected and destroyed medical panel reports and instructed the panels to submit modified reports, all without notice to the parties involved in the case.
Immediate actions were taken to stop this conduct, along with the process of identifying the extent of the conduct, the reasons behind it, and the steps necessary to correct it. The Commission immediately concluded that the ALJ and Director’s actions were contrary to statute and Commission policy. The Commission therefore took the following immediate corrective actions:
Recognizing that confidence in the Commission’s adjudicative system could not begin to be restored without an independent assessment of this situation, the Commission requested an outside audit be conducted.
“These actions in the cases referenced above are contrary to my expectations for transparency and openness”, noted Utah Labor Commissioner, Sherrie Hayashi. “I recognize this situation undermines the public’s confidence in the integrity and fairness of the Commission’s adjudicative system, and I am determined to fully implement the recommendations of this report, and assure the confidence of the public and stakeholders in the medical panel’s evaluation process.”
The Commission also intends to hold discussions with stakeholders and conduct public hearings to consider whether additional rules are necessary to regulate the Commission’s medical panel process. These discussions and hearings will be as inclusive as possible; updates will be communicated directly to stakeholders and also published on the Commission’s website at www.laborcommission.utah.gov
Attachment: Commission Summary and Independent Audit Report