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American Medical Association (AMA)

Definition - What does American Medical Association (AMA) mean?

Founded in 1847, the American Medical Association (AMA) is comprised of medical students, medical doctors, and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs).

The goal of the AMA is to promote the science of medicine. They accomplish this task by advancing the interests of doctors and patients. They also raise money to help promote medical education and hire lobbyist who work to promote legislative action which helps patients and doctors and promotes public health. The American Medical Association also publishes a weekly journal called the Journal of American Medical Association or JAMA.

The American Medical Association and Personal Injury

The American Medical Association provides a guide to evaluate permanent injury called the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. This source is commonly used by doctors to determine an evaluation rating for injured claimants. The guide can be used to rate the impairment of claimants who have been injured performing their normal job duty (workers’ compensation claims), claimants injured in an automobile accident, or claimants injured by the negligence of another person (personal injury claim).

How does the doctor use the Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment?

Doctors may be asked to determine the impairment rating of an injured claimant. Some states use the AMA Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment to improve the relevancy of impairment ratings, to create consistency of ratings, and to promote ease of application to the rating process. Doctors also find the Guide helpful when rating several organ systems.

Permanent Disability Rating and the AMA

With the Guide, physicians can give the personal injury claimant or workers’ compensation claimant an impairment rating, which can measure the degree of impairment experienced by the worker after their accident or injury.

The permanent disability rating is only assessed after the worker has reached their maximum medical improvement level and can be very important in the calculation of the amount of money they can receive for their workers’ compensation claim or personal injury lawsuit.

If a work-related accident or personal injury permanently impairs the worker's ability, however minimally, their work capacity may be reduced. This rating is a reduction in functionality when compared to what the doctor considers their “normal functioning capacity." The doctor can use the Guide, provided by the AMA, to assess a permanent disability rating. This rating varies based on the degree of permanent injury related to the accident.

The Guide, however, is not used to determine the claimant’s disability but rather their medical impairment. An impairment is defined by the Guide as a “significant deviation, loss, or loss of use of any body structure or body function in an individual with a health condition, disorder, or disease.” The Guide defines a disability as “an activity limitation and/or participation restrictions in an individual with a health condition, disorder or disease.”

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