You might have heard the doctor discussing it or read about it in one of your reports. MMI stands for maximum medical improvement. It essentially is the point at which you have improved the most and you are not likely to significantly improve any further. The doctor has done all that he or she could do from a medical perspective and your current status is as good as it’s going to get.
A lot of my patients freak out when they hear the doctor and I discussing MMI so early on in the treatment process. But don’t worry; we’re just trying to get an estimate for how long it will take for you to recovery under normal and regular circumstances. This also gives the claims adjuster an estimate of how long your claim will be open and how much money the claim might cost. In addition, knowing this date will give you, the injured worker, an idea of how long it will take for you to get better. Just remember that the estimated MMI date is not set in stone. It will frequently change depending on how your recovery progresses. Each individually has a unique recovery and you’re no different.
So what happens when you reach MMI? When the doctor has deemed that you are at MMI, your claim will close and you can return to your regular life. But don’t stress out, you won’t be left to just fend for yourself. The doctor will likely give you the option for future medical care. Which means that in the future if you need medical care for the injury related to this claim, you can return to the doctor, and get the needed treatment. For example, you injured your shoulder three months ago and now you’ve been deemed MMI. Then a year later, your shoulder starts to give you problems again. Your future medical care will allow you to be evaluated by a doctor and receive the necessary treatments that you need ( such as physical therapy, medications, injections, or surgery). Future medical care is like having the option to “re-open” open your claim when you need to in the future.
Now if you haven’t discussed MMI with your doctor yet, I suggest that you do so at your next appointment. Why? Because like I said earlier, you need to an informed patient and you should be aware of how long your recovery process should take and if you are on target to recover by the estimated date. Staying on top of your work comp claim is your responsibility as an injured worker. You should openly discuss your estimated MMI date and recovery goals with your Nurse Case Manager and physician frequently throughout your recovery. Ask questions and stay informed.
Lolita Korneagay, RN, BSN, MBA, ALNC is a Registered Nurse and Patient Advocate that has over a decade of experience with assisting patients recovery from illness and injuries. She provides expert medical consulting to patients, employers, insurance companies, and attorneys regarding healthcare claims. For a consultation, visit www.korneagaylnc.com for additional information.