If you sustained an injury during work and filed a worker’s compensation claim, then you may have received a letter directing you to attend an Independent Medical Exam (IME). You probably have never heard of the doctor before and never met the doctor, but now this doctor will poke and prod you and ask probing questions about your injury, previous injuries and illnesses, and your lifestyle. You probably have a lot of questions about IMEs, therefore, we have complied a list of frequently asked questions about IMEs.
What is an IME?
An IME, or independent medical examination, is an examination by a medical professional, preferably a specialist in the area of your injury, that is directed to give an opinion regarding the severity of your injury or injuries.
Will the doctor conducting the IME treat my condition?
No, the doctor is not there to treat your condition, only to examine you. Prior to meeting you, the doctor will have likely ordered your previous medical records and reviewed those as well. The doctor will, however, provide an opinion regarding whether your current course of treatment is appropriate and whether other treatment options should be pursued.
Why am I being sent to an IME?
If you are pursuing worker’s compensation benefits and the insurance company does not agree with your doctor’s opinion on the severity of your condition or the expectation of treatment going forward, then the insurance company will send you to a doctor for an objective assessment.
Do I have to pay for the IME?
No, the insurance company will pay for the examination.
Are they truly independent?
It is unlikely that you will have a truly independent examination. The insurance company decided to send you to a IME because they disagree with your doctor. The reason they would disagree with your doctor is because your treating doctor’s prescribed course of treatment is considered too expensive for the insurance company, therefore, the insurance company wants a less expensive alternative. They would not pay a doctor to provide an alternate opinion if they did not think that the cost of the examination would be offset by the potential savings. The insurance company will not keep sending claimants to doctors that give high disability ratings or agree with treating doctors.
What can I expect from the examination?
Before the IME, the doctor will have obtained your medical records, though he or she may not have reviewed them. Also, the insurance company may have sent the doctor a letter outlining the injury and relevant medical facts. You will also received a copy of this letter and should take care to review anything sent to this doctor so that you can dispute any factual inaccuracies.
Does doctor-patient confidentiality apply to these meetings?
No, the conversation that you have with this doctor is not privileged and can be used against you at a worker’s compensation hearing. Do not volunteer any information to this doctor and do not assume that a pleasant demeanor means that the doctor “likes” you or will be favorable to you in the report.
If I have an attorney, will my attorney send me to their own doctor?
You should have your own treating doctor, but if you are sent to an IME by the insurance company, your attorney may send you to an alternate IME. However, be sure that you have an attorney that has a significant worker’s compensation practice. An experienced worker’s compensation attorney is familiar with the doctors that perform IMEs and can identify those that provide fair examinations and avoid those that are just looking for a quick buck.
If you are fighting for your worker’s compensation benefits and have been sent to an IME, you should consider retaining an attorney to fight on your behalf. If you or someone you love need an experienced worker’s compensation attorney, please contact us for a free consultation.
Contact A Mankato Workers' Compensation Lawyer Today
Contact the law office of Chesley, Harvey & Carpenter today at (507) 625-3000 for a free case review. We are located in Mankato, Minnesota.