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PDFWAC 296-20-330

Impairments of mental health.

Rules for evaluation of permanent impairment of mental health:
(1) Mental illness means malfunction of the psychic apparatus that significantly interferes with ordinary living.
(2) Each person has a pattern of adjustment to life. The pattern of adjustment before the industrial injury or occupational disease serves as a base line for all assessments of whether there has been a permanent impairment due to the industrial injury or occupational disease.
(3) To determine the preinjury pattern of adjustment, all evaluations of mental health shall contain a complete preinjury history including, but not necessarily limited to: Family background and the relationships with parents or other nurturing figures; extent of education and reaction to it; military experience, if any; problems with civil authorities; any history of prolonged illness, and difficulty with recovery; any history of drug abuse or alcoholism; employment history, the extent of and reaction to responsibility, and relationships with others at work; capacity to make and retain friends; relationships with spouses and children; nature of daily activities, including recreation and hobbies; and lastly, some summary statement about the sources of the patient's self-esteem and sense of identity. Both strengths and vulnerabilities of the person shall be included.
(4) Differences in adjustment patterns before and after the industrial injury or occupational disease shall be described, and the report shall contain the examining physician's opinion as to whether any differences:
(a) Are the result of the industrial injury or occupational disease and its sequelae, in the sense they would not have occurred had there not been the industrial injury or occupational disease;
(b) Are permanent or temporary;
(c) Are more than the normal, self-correcting and expectable response to the stress of the industrial injury or occupational disease;
(d) Constitute an impairment psychosocially or physiologically; and
(e) Are susceptible to treatment, and, if so, what kind. The presence of any unrelated or coincidental mental impairment shall always be mentioned.
(5) All reports of mental health evaluations shall use the diagnostic terminology listed in the edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) designated by the department.
(6) No classification of impairment shall be made for complaints where the quality of daily life does not differ substantially from the preinjury pattern. A patient not currently employed may not engage in the same activities as when working, but the level and variety of his activities and zest for them shall distinguish the purely situational difference from cases of regression and withdrawal. In cases where some loss of use of body member is claimed, no category or impairment shall be assigned unless there are objective findings of physiologic regression or consistent evidence of altered adaptability.
(7) The physician shall identify the personality disorders as defined in the edition of the DSM designated by the department. Patients with these longstanding character disorders may show problem behavior that seems more related to current stress than it is, sometimes unconsciously insinuating themselves into difficult situations of which they then complain. Emotional reactions to an injury and subsequent events must be carefully evaluated in these patients. It must be medically probable that such reactions are permanent before a category of impairment can be attributed to the injury; temporary reactions or preexisting psychopathology must be differentiated.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 51.04.020, 51.04.030, and 51.08.142. WSR 15-19-139, § 296-20-330, filed 9/22/15, effective 10/23/15; Order 74-32, § 296-20-330, filed 6/21/74, effective 10/1/74.]
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