The application process for California QMEs

Cases involving personal injury and workers’ compensation often require expert opinion from a physician who can evaluate a claimant’s impairment related to a specific injury. The Department of Workers’ Compensation Medical Unit appoints QMEs (qualified medical evaluators) to perform these medical evaluations. The Medical Unit also issues QME panels to injured workers and claims administrators. A physician must meet educational and licensing requirements to qualify as a QME. They must also pass a test and participate in ongoing education on the workers’ compensation evaluation process.

Steps to become a QME (Qualified Medical Examiner)

  1. Complete and mail in the Application for Appointment, found on the DWC website.
  2. It is recommended that QMEs purchase and read the Physician’s Guide to Medical Practice in the California Workers’ Compensation System.  This manual covers information regarding the disability, compensation schedules, guidelines for the evaluator’s office staff, and other helpful materials.  The order form can be found on the DWC website here.
  3. Read and review the QME competency examination study guide from the DWC website.
  4. Read and review the QME competency examination booklet from the DWC website.
  5. If you are an acupuncturist, read and review QME competency examination from the DWC website.
  6. Sign up for the next QME examination.  Exam schedules are posted on the DWC website.  Exams are usually given at monthly intervals so check the DWC website to see when the next exam will be held.
  7. Take the 12 hour Report Writing Course.  This course completes the first requirement of 12 CE credits every two years.
  8. You’re now a California QME!  Be sure to keep up with the continuing education requirement by taking QME CE courses at a minimum of 12 CE credit hours every two years.

Ethical considerations for QMEs

QME doctors, as part of QME panels, are bound to ethical and conflict-of-interest rules.  A shared financial interest (QME form 124) form must be submitted to the DWC Medical Unit.  The Medical Unit uses this form to assemble a QME panel and avoids placing QMEs with shared financial interests that would bias the panel’s decision-making ability.  Additionally, other conflicts of interest include the exchange of gifts or other things of value that could possibly create a conflict of interest with the duties of a QME.  To ensure all possible conflicts of interest are known and disclosed properly, review and submit QME Form 123 to state whether the possible conflict of interest would disqualify you from participating in the QME panel.