S.C. Code Ann. § 42-1-160(G) defines “medical evidence” as “expert opinion or testimony stated to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, documents, records, or other material that is offered by a licensed health care provider.” In recent years, the use of “check the box” questionnaires has become more prevalent, if not customary, leading many to question their sufficiency as “medical evidence.”
These questionnaires typically appear in a claim that involves any of the following:
· A dispute as to the causal relationship of an alleged injured body part,
· A dispute as to the attainment of maximum medical improvement,
· The need for medical treatment is contested; or
· A prior medical opinion is reversed or clarified
The questionnaires are typically three or four short statements regarding the issue(s) in dispute and provide the option for the health care provider to agree with the statement by checking “yes” or disagree by checking “no.” However, the questionnaires almost never contain further elaboration from the health care provider of how the opinion was reached or what objective medical evidence the opinion is based upon. While the claimant has technically produced an opinion from a health care provider, stated to a reasonable degree of medical certainty as required by statute, there is no real foundation for a hearing Commissioner to weigh the sufficiency of the opinion.