Sometime during the course of your treatment for an injury, your health insurance company or employer may require you to submit to an independent medical examination (IME) to determine if you need further care for your injury. What you say and do during this examination can determine whether or not you will receive more treatments.
Your IME will be performed by a doctor, physical therapist, or chiropractor who has not been involved in your treatments.
The examination that the doctor or therapist will perform will determine:
- The cause, extent and medical treatment of your work-related or other injury, where liability is at issue
- Whether you have reached maximum benefit from your treatments
- Whether any permanent impairment remains after your treatments
IMEs are not Independent
While called “independent” medical examinations, these examinations are conducted by doctors and therapists who have been specifically selected by the insurance company, where the insurance company stands to save substantial amounts of money if the IME doctor or therapist determines that you are fully recovered or at maximum medical improvement. Insurance companies therefore pick insurance company-oriented physicians.
Bring an Observer to the IME
Try to bring a friend or family member with you. Explain to them ahead of time what the IME is about and ask them to take notes on:
- Exactly what time the doctor began and ended the exam
- What medical history or other questions the doctor asked you
- What tests the doctor performed
- How long the doctor took to perform the exam
- Other details that you might not remember
This person can act as a witness if you later disagree with the adjuster about the fairness or accuracy of the examination.