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AGO 1950 No. 267 - May 02, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

MEDICAL AID ‑- INELIGIBILITY OF DOCTOR TO TREAT WORKMAN

The Director of Labor and Industries may render a physician or surgeon ineligible to treat workmen entitled to benefits under the medical aid act for failure to comply with the rules and regulations established under section 6, chapter 28, Laws of 1947 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 7715).

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                                                                    May 2, 1950

Honorable A. M. Johnson
Director
Department of Labor and Industries
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 267

Dear Sir:

            By oral request you have asked for an opinion of this office on the following question:

            Under the rule‑making power delegated to the Director of Labor and Industries in Rem. Rev. Stat. 7715, may the director render a physician or surgeon ineligible from treating injured workmen entitled to benefits under the medical aid act for failure to comply with the rules and regulations?

            The conclusion reached may be summarized as follows:

            The Director of Labor and Industries may render a physician or surgeon ineligible to treat workmen entitled to benefits under the medical aid act for failure to comply with the rules and regulations established under section 6, chapter 28, Laws of 1947 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 7715).

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The Director of Labor and Industries had been delegated the duties formerly performed by the State Medical Aid Board, sections 79, 135, chapter 7, Laws of 1921 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 10836, 10893).  Among the duties enumerated is the duty to "establish and promulgate printed forms, rules,  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] regulations and practices for the furnishing of such care, treatment and services to workmen."  Section 6, chapter 28, Laws of 1917 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 7715).  These rules, regulations and practices, which may vary with the different localities and industries but shall be in accordance with the principle that the injured workman receive prompt and efficient care and treatment without discrimination or favoritism, are under the direct authorization, administration and control of the director.  Section 3, chapter 129, Laws of 1919 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 7716).  The duty also devolves upon the director to "provide care and treatment for each workman injured after June 30, 1923, in extra-hazardous employment, to make a record of the commencement of every disability, and the termination of the same and subject to the provisions of section 7716 of Remington's Compiled Statutes to certify all bills rendered for care or treatment of injured workmen, with power to reject any bill or item thereof incurred in violation of the principles laid down in section 7715 of Remington's Compiled Statutes, or the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder."  Section 10, chapter 136, Laws of 1923 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 7719).

            That the legislature may, under proper circumstances, delegate to administrative officers and boards authority to promulgate rules and regulations to carry out an express legislative purpose, or to effect the operation and enforcement of a law, is well settled.  State v. Mills, 5 Wn. (2d) 322, 105 P. (2d) 51.

            The director in effectuating his duties has promulgated regulations covering fees; routine procedures for handling specific types of injuries; methods of rendering bills.  It is necessary for a doctor to obtain authorization from the director to commence treatment; to call in another doctor for consultation; to give any specialized treatment.  The above are examples of rules already in existence covering service to injured workmen.  It would not be in derogation of the powers and duties of the director to establish a rule or rules governing the eligibility of doctors to treat workmen under the act.  For example, a rule might be established making a doctor ineligible to practice under the act for failure to file complete and adequate reports, for frequent mal-results, for padding bills or for false reports or misrepresentations, or erroneous diagnosis to build up bills for excessive medical charges.  Such rules would be in keeping with the general requirement of prompt and efficient care and treatment of injured workmen.  Without a rule subjecting a doctor to disqualification from treating workmen, the director is powerless to obtain compliance with the regulations.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            The conclusion is, therefore, that the director may render a physician or surgeon ineligible to treat workmen entitled to benefits under the medical aid act for failure to comply with the established rules and regulations.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

T. H. LITTLE
Chief Assistant
Attorney General

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