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What Is An Independent Medical Exam (IME)?

  • By: Amy Brewer
  • Published: May 14, 2018
Independent Medical Exam

When an employee is hurt on the job, worker’s compensation insurance covers certain benefits, including medical care to cure and relieve the effects of the injury. And while it seems that medical benefits should be easy to obtain, that is not always the case. Workers’ Compensation insurance carriers pay medical benefits based on three criteria. First, the injured worker must go to the authorized, or designated, medical provider. In Colorado, the employer has the right to designate the physician. Second, the medical treatment must be related to the original injury. Third, the medical treatment recommended must be reasonable and necessary.

Frequently medical treatment will be recommended which the insurance carrier questions whether “reasonable and necessary. For instance, if an injured worker hurts a knee, the orthopedic doctor might recommend knee surgery, such as a meniscus repair. If the insurance carrier does not agree that the surgery is reasonable and necessary, it will schedule an independent medical evaluation. Again, the insurance carrier in Colorado has the right to designate which doctor will perform IME. The purpose of the IME is for the physician to give an opinion whether the proposed medical treatment is reasonable and necessary.

While that sounds simple and straight-forward, it is not always that way. The insurance company quite often does not have your interests in mind. Rather, it will designate a physician to perform the IME who is known to be “Conservative”.

Some tips for when you attend an independent medical exam, or IME:

  1. Remember that the IME Physician is not your friend. That means you do not want to have long conversations with that doctor. Answer his or her questions politely and concisely. You may be asked about prior injuries, specifically how your injury happened, your current symptoms and any prescriptions you’ve been given.
  2.  Take copies of all films, such as MRIs and CT scans. The IME Physicians are often provided with the reports from these diagnostic tests, but not the films themselves.
  3. Be on time and dress appropriately.
  4.  Be aware that often the independent medical doctor is watching you when you are not aware, such as when you walk two and from your vehicle, or get in and out of your car.
  5. The IME Physician is not responsible for health care or treatment. The IME physician is only hired to give a medical evaluation for a specific case.
  6.  The Doctor- patient confidentiality privilege does not exist in this situation.

Attending an IME requested by the insurance company can be stressful. However, if you take your time and follow the tips outlined above you will do better than if you go unprepared.

Amy Brewer

About the Author Amy Brewer represents and advises claimants in
a wide variety of workers' compensation matters,
as well as social security disability claims. Read More