California's workers' compensation system uses a process called independent medical review (IMR) to resolve disputes about the medical treatment of injured employees. As of July 1, 2013, medical treatment disputes for all dates of injury will be resolved by physicians through an efficient process known as IMR, rather than through the often cumbersome and costly court system.
A request for medical treatment in the workers' compensations system must go through a "utilization review" process to confirm that it is medically necessary before it is approved. If utilization review denies, delays or modifies a treating physician's request for medical treatment because the treatment is not medically necessary, the injured employee can ask for a review of that decision through IMR.
The costs of IMR are paid by employers who are required by law to provide injured employees with all medical treatment that is reasonable and necessary to cure or relieve the effects of a work-related injury. The DWC is required to contract with one or more independent medical review organizations (IMROs) to conduct IMR on its behalf.