Let’s say you’ve been injured in a workplace accident, a slip and fall at a store, or a car accident. You file a claim with workers’ compensation or your insurance company, then receive a medical evaluation, diagnosis and treatment from your primary care doctor or a specialist you’ve chosen. You send the medical documents to the claims adjuster to prove your injuries were caused by the accident you suffered.
In return, the insurance company or attorney for your employer, store where the accident occurred, or other driver asks for an independent medical examination (IME). Huh?
IMEs are typically requested to help settle legal claims when there’s a liability dispute. Keep reading to learn more about what an IME is, when one is requested, and what to expect during an evaluation.
What Is an Independent Medical Examination?
An independent medical examination is a medical exam performed by an independent, third-party doctor who was not previously involved in diagnosing or treating you. The purpose of an IME is to gain an unbiased opinion of your injury, the consequences of said injury, and your current condition.
IMEs are typically requested when there’s a dispute in personal injury or workers’ comp cases. Insurance companies, employers, or attorneys can request an IME. In Ohio, if you file a workers’ comp claim, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) may request an IME.
IMEs help uncover the truth of an incident where liability is in question. These unbiased reports can help settle claims faster and more efficiently.
When Is an IME Requested?
There are several situations where an independent medical examination may be requested. Some examples of these include:
- Workplace injury cases
- Personal injury cases (including motorcycle or car accidents)
- Liability injury cases (including slip and falls)
- Product liability cases
- Medical malpractice cases
- Nursing home negligence cases
The results of an IME could have an impact on how your case is settled and the amount of compensation awarded.
What Happens During an IME?
If you’re asked to undergo an IME, you may feel nervous or uncomfortable talking to a physician who’s not your regular doctor. For the most part, an IME will proceed like a normal medical exam. The examiner will have received case notes and medical records from the institution or person who requested the IME. During the evaluation, the physician will ask you questions about your medical history, current injuries related to the case, and the way your injuries have impacted your life. You’ll probably be asked to undergo a physical evaluation as well.
If you’re nervous, try to think of the exam as just another doctor’s appointment. Keep these tips in mind to help you prepare for your evaluation.
- Be on time and prepared. You’ll most likely be going to an unfamiliar clinic, so give yourself plenty of time to find it, park, and get checked in before your appointment time. If the institution or attorney that requested the exam asked you to bring additional medical records or files, have them with you.
- Be polite and respectful. We understand that you may not want to undergo an IME, especially with a doctor you’ve never met before. But getting upset, being rude, or refusing to answer questions will only drag the process out longer. Be polite and respectful, as you would be to any new doctor you were meeting for the first time under different circumstances.
- Be honest. During an IME, answer the questions posed to you as honestly as possible. If you don’t know something, say that you don’t know instead of guessing or making something up.
- Know that this is a limited relationship. Remember, this is the first and only time you need to see this doctor. Keep the conversation focused on the injury you’re being assessed for — there’s no need to discuss other health issues like you would with your primary care physician (PCP). You’re not obligated to follow any advice or treatment recommendations from the examiner if you don’t want to.
Please be aware that doctor-patient confidentiality doesn’t apply during an IME. Anything you say or do could end up in the physician’s final report. If you have an attorney, they will also prepare you for an IME, and may even request to join you during an exam.
BEST Performs Independent Medical Examinations
BEST Surgery and Therapies is now performing IMEs in our Cincinnati, OH healthcare facility. Our board-certified doctors evaluate a wide range of injuries stemming from workplace accidents, car or motorcycle accidents, slip and falls, and other liability cases. If you have a case that needs a third-party expert medical opinion, contact us today.