If you have filed a workers' compensation claim in Ohio, you might receive a notice asking you to attend an independent medical examination. Most often, insurance companies ask for an IME when they have issues regarding your condition, proposed treatment or disability rating. Sometimes, an IME can happen on the order of the judge or hearing officer.
Usually, the insurance company chooses and pays the doctor who conducts the IME. When you show up to the IME, keep in mind that this process differs in some important ways from a normal appointment with your treating physician.
An IME is not a normal doctor's appointment
During a regular appointment, the goal is to address your health problems and develop the best treatment. The purpose of the IME, on the other hand, is often to double-check, and possibly contradict, your treating physician's opinion as to your condition and how best to treat it.
You should be aware that the normal rules of doctor-patient confidentiality may not apply in the setting of an IME. The doctor performing the IME can testify at your hearing and submit reports about the results of the examination. He or she may also report on observations that did not form part of the examination itself, as well as any statements you make before, during and after the IME. You can expect any perceived inconsistencies to receive attention, so it is important to get your timeline straight and refresh your memory as to how the injury happened and the course of your treatments.
Do not let the IME doctor rely on faulty information
Typically, the insurance company will send your medical records and other relevant documents to the doctor who will perform the IME. The insurer may also include specific questions about areas of concern. Your lawyer can ask for a copy of the insurer's letter and address any inaccuracies or inappropriate inquiries.
The IME's outcome can affect your case
The IME doctor's report can have a lot of weight in the resolution of your case. Preparing for the IME and keeping an eye out for factual inaccuracies can help reduce the chances that it will cause you to lose the benefits you need.