If you’ve filed for workers’ compensation then you’ve already seen at least one doctor who has diagnosed your condition, recommended treatments, and who has indicated how this injury or illness will impact your ability to return to work. However, if the insurance company is disputing your claim you may have to undergo an independent medical exam.
What Is An Independent Medical Exam?
An independent medical exam (IME) is an exam that is conducted by a physician who is supposed to be impartial. The outcome of these exams can severely impact workers’ compensation cases and should be taken quite seriously. The purpose of these exams is to resolve any disputes about the medical condition claimed by an injured worker.
How Is A Neutral Doctor Found For An IME?
The rules regarding IME’s can vary drastically from state to state. In Pennsylvania, the insurance company is generally allowed to choose the physician that will be performing the examination.
- The “examiner” must be a licensed medical physician, dentist, or psychologist.
- The patient has the right to have counsel or other representatives with them during the exam.
- The physician must provide a detailed report about all findings, including test results, diagnosis, and recommendations.
Keep in mind that while most doctors are honest, the doctor working with the insurance company is usually selected because they have provided the outcome that the company is hoping for.
What Will Happen During My IME?
Prior to completing a physical examination, the doctor who has been assigned will be provided with your medical records and any other documents that could be relevant. The insurance company may write a letter containing a summary of the treatments you’ve already undergone and they may include questions that the company would like answered.
It’s important to obtain a copy of any letters sent by the insurance company so corrections to the summary can be made, if necessary.
During the physical exam, the doctor will likely ask questions about the accident, how you became injured or ill, and about your symptoms. Keep in mind that anything you tell this physician is NOT privileged information and could impact your case. However, be honest about what you are experiencing and don’t try to exaggerate any of your symptoms.
Once the physical exam is complete, the doctor may request that additional tests, such as blood tests, be performed.
Can I Prepare For My IME?
Yes, there are steps you can take to prepare for your IME. Consider the following:
- Review what the insurance company has told the physician. If there is anything that needs to be corrected or questions that are inappropriate, your attorney can address this.
- Review your own medical history. This might sound silly but it’s important to be able to answer any questions that the physician has about your past medical history. When undergoing a large number of tests, it can be easy to get confused about dates and results.
- Write down your symptoms. It’s easy to forget to mention something during this exam. By writing down your physical and emotional experiences, it gives you a reminder of the important things that should be mentioned.
- Pick out an appropriate outfit. No, we don’t mean you have to wear business attire. What we mean is don’t forget to bring the supports and devices with you that help you with your injury, like crutches, braces, or slings.
- Ask someone to join you. Bring your friend or relative to the exam with you. Have them witness the exam, take notes, and provide you with support.
Once the exam and any testing are complete, the physician will send a report to you and the insurance company. Review this immediately with your attorney so that any mistakes can be corrected immediately.
If you still haven’t found an attorney, be sure to search for “best workers comp lawyers near me” and speak with several law firms to determine the best fit for you and your case.