If you have filed a workers’ compensation claim after you’ve sustained a work-related injury or illness, you have the right to see your regular healthcare provider or choose another doctor for the treatment of your injuries. Your treating physician will make the important decisions about your medical treatment and when you can return to work.
However, if there is a dispute with your employers’ workers’ comp insurance company about any of the decisions your doctor has made or how and if you should be compensated, you may be asked to undergo an independent medical examination (IME) with another doctor.
The conclusions reached in these exams can significantly impact your workers’ comp case, so it’s important to be prepared and know exactly what to do and not do in your IME.
What To Expect From an Independent Medical Exam
The first step of preparing for your appointment is to do lots of research about what to expect. Reading this article is a great place to start. It’s important not to do anything to compromise the integrity of your claim. Knowing what to expect from a workers’ compensation medical evaluation before you arrive can significantly improve your chances of a successful outcome that benefits your interests.
A doctor who performs IMEs is called a “Panel Qualified Medical Evaluator” (PQME), and is (in theory) supposed to be neutral. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, so you need to be prepared. Prior to the exam, your medical records and other documents will be sent to the PQME. In some cases, your employer’s insurer may send a letter to the physician which details specific concerns and questions about your injury.
At a workers’ compensation doctor evaluation, you’ll be asked about your medical history, how your current injury occurred, and about any treatments you’ve received so far. The doctor may also choose to conduct a physical examination and perform some tests.
How To Approach Your Independent Medical Exam
Know What to Bring to Your Exam
When you go to your IME, you should bring (at minimum):
- Photo identification
- Any medical records you have been asked to bring
- A comprehensive list of all the medications you are currently taking
- The names of all healthcare providers you’ve seen in relation to your workers’ comp claim
You may also want to bring any documents or information you need to review when answering the doctor’s questions. These may include family medical history information, a list of prescriptions, or details about how your injury occurred.
Consider Talking to an Attorney Beforehand
A local workers’ compensation attorney can help you prepare for your examination by discussing the unique circumstances of your case and what to expect from an IME. Workers’ comp attorneys are well versed in the kinds of tricks used by IME doctors and insurance companies. They can see through what might be an inaccurate or incomplete report in order to help you get the compensation you need and deserve for your injury.
Arrive Early & Be Polite
Arriving on time for your IME means getting there at least 30 minutes before the exam is scheduled to occur. Present yourself well by wearing clean clothes and making sure you’re well groomed for the appointment. Remember that you’re not only being observed during the exam. You’ll be watched from the moment you enter the building to the moment you exit, and the IME doctor will take note of your behavior throughout the process.
Be Ready to Talk About Your Medical History
The doctor will ask you a series of questions about your medical history, including prior injuries and health conditions. Make sure you are clear about your current injury and all past injuries. Highlight new and different symptoms, pain, and limitations that did not previously exist before your injury.
Be Completely Honest
The best way to protect the integrity of your workers’ comp claim is to be completely honest throughout the entire process. This is very important during an IME. Here’s what you should do:
- Don’t exaggerate your injuries or level of pain.
- Give an accurate description of how you sustained your injury.
- Be brief – there’s no reason to give more information than you’re asked to provide.
- Explain your symptoms, pain level, and any limitations you’re experiencing as clearly as possible.
Know What Not To Do
Knowing what not to do at a workers’ comp exam is as important as knowing what you should do and say. Here’s what you should avoid doing:
- Don’t argue with the IME doctor – you will have a chance to make your case later if the doctor’s report is inaccurate.
- Don’t discuss the reasons behind why you filed your claim.
- Never exaggerate or overstate the impact of your injuries.
- Try not to react – either positively or negatively – to the length of the exam or types of questions the doctor asks you.
The Experienced Workers’ Comp Attorneys at RGMR Can Help You Prepare For Your IME & Fight For Your Rights
At Ransom, Gilbertson, Martin, and Ratliff, LLP, we have over 70 years of combined experience fighting workers’ comp cases on behalf of employees in Oregon. We’ve seen it all. We know how the system works, and the kinds of tricks that are sometimes used by IME doctors and insurance companies to avoid providing the compensation injured workers deserve.
We’re here to help you navigate this frustrating process and fight to make sure you get everything you’re entitled to. We offer free consultations and never charge you anything unless we win your case! Contact us today and let us know how we can help you.