If you have been injured at work recently and need medical care, you may be asked to undergo an independent medical exam, which is also known as an IME. An IME is essentially a second opinion from a new health care provider to determine the extent of your injuries. If you are found to no longer be injured, your benefits are likely to end.
In order to access the most appropriate medical care and recover as much as possible, it is essential to understand the basics of an independent medical exam.
#1-You Do Not Have A Relationship With The Health Care Provider Giving The Exam
In the United States, the majority of interactions that occur between a patient and their doctor are covered under doctor-patient confidentiality. In most cases, the physician cannot share your information without getting your permission to do so.
An independent medical exam is a notable exception and you have no right to expect your information to remain in-office. The results of the exam and any testing can be shared with the insurance company and your employer. Since they are paying for your care, they can see your diagnosis, medical recommendations and your projected recovery time.
#2 Protect Your Interests During The Visit By Not Volunteering Any Information
In theory, the physician providing your IME should be impartial. Unfortunately, he or she may not be as impartial as they could be. It is important to remember that the doctor seeing you is not on your side.
Since insurance companies have been known to use just one or two health care providers in an area and you have only a brief period of time with them, it is possible that they could be overly harsh when diagnosing your issue. As a result, it is a good idea to not volunteer any unnecessary information.
#3-Be Clear As To What The Exam Is Looking For
It is important to know why the exam is being given. For example, there could be doubt about the extent or severity of your injury. It could also be that the cause of your injury is in question.
When you know what the physician is looking for, you will be better prepared to answer the more difficult questions. In addition, you also have the time to access any previous medical records that would help to establish that your injury was not self-induced or pre-existing. If you were lucky enough to have had a physical shortly before your accident, that record attesting to your previous good health can help your case tremendously.
In conclusion, an independent medical exam is often needed to obtain or r extend your worker's compensation benefits after a work-related injury. By preparing for it and knowing what the goals of the visit are, you will be better able to advocate for your rights and access the help you need to get well.