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5.5.1 American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment


The AMA Guides are the original source documents upon which the Comcare Approved Guide was based.

If a client's impairment is of a kind that cannot be assessed in accordance with the provisions of the Approved Guide, the Introduction to the Approved Guide authorises reference to the provisions of the current AMA Guides in making the assessment. Following the decision of the Full Federal Court in the case of Comcare v Broadhurst [2011] FCAFC 39, this reference to the “current” guide should be read as a reference to AMA 5. The AMA Guides are to be used in these cases to assess a percentage PI rating, which is then to be used to calculate PI compensation under section 24 as per normal.

The AMA Guides provide a standard framework and method of analysis through which doctors can evaluate, report on, and communicate information about the impairments of any human organ system. They are used as a guide to estimating the degree of long-standing or permanent impairments, which are defined as adverse conditions that are stable and unlikely to change.

Use of AMA Guides in Defence cases is restricted

The AMA Guides are to be used on a very restricted basis for assessments of permanent impairment for Defence personnel, and then only in consultation with, or under the direction of, an approved medical provider.

A common case of use of the AMA Guides is for fingers or toes in place of Table 9.4. See the section on the musculo-skeletal tables above for more information.