If you have filed a workers’ compensation claim due to a work-related injury in Nevada, you may have heard about an independent medical exam (IME). If you are wondering what is the purpose of this exam, you have come to the right place.
Why would you need an independent medical exam?
The workers’ compensation insurance company may request that you obtain an independent medical exam for a variety of reasons.. Usually, the insurer will schedule an IME when the insurer disagrees with your treating doctor’s recommendations. Sometimes, if there is a medical question regarding your injuries, a judge may also order tha you get an independent medical exam when there is a dispute with your case. A claimant – AKA, the injured worker – can also request an IME under certain circumstances outlined in NRS 616C.145.
How is the doctor chosen for an independent medical exam?
An independent medical exam is supposed to provide a full assessment of your injury or illness as well as answer important questions such as what type of treatment is needed, how severe the condition is, and if you you have permanent work restriction. You may be able to see a doctor of your choice for the IME but If the insurance company schedules an independent medical exam, you will be required to see the doctor of their choosing. . Whether selected by you, or the insurer, the cost of the exam will be paid by the insurer.
What happens during an independent medical exam?
Your IME is designed to determine both the lasting scope of your injuries, as well as your ability to return to work. During a typical exam, you will be asked questions such as:
- What happened that led to your injuries?
- What injuries did you sustain?
- Have you sustained these injuries before?
- What lingering effects/symptoms of those injuries do you still have?
- What doctors have you treated with?
- How much pain are in you (today/every day/when performing certain tasks)?
- What is an average day like for you?
The doctor may do all of the things that your own doctor would do during a routine check-up – check your temperature and your breathing, perhaps test your reflexes – but he or she will also be observing you at all times. This is really important to understand, because that “observation” is not just to see how you’re progressing; it’s also to see if you’re being completely honest. The chances are good that you will be observed from the moment you leave your vehicle in the parking lot. The doctor will look at your mobility, your clothing, and your general hygiene, and make any notes about your mental state that he or she finds pertinent.
Depending on how the IME goes, you may be sent for additional testing, like MRIs or EKGs. If you have undergone these tests, the doctor will review those results and make note of any “discrepancies” he or she noticed between your behavior and symptoms, and what the tests say.
Do you need to prepare for an independent medical exam?
Preparing for any type of medical exam is beneficial to you and the doctor. There are a few different ways you can prepare, including the following:
- Eat before the exam because it could take a long time.
- Wear clothes that are comfortable. You may be asked to perform certain movements or tests.
- Be familiar with your medical records, as well as any treatments you have already undergone. It is okay to bring notes with you; you don’t have to memorize the details of every appointment you have had.
- Remember to be honest, but don’t volunteer additional details.
- Arrive at your appointment early to complete paperwork.
Assume that you are being observed at all times before and after the exam
How long do independent medical exams usually take?
The length of independent medical exams vary greatly. These appointments generally about an hour. However, some exams will take much longer.
Once your independent medical exam is complete, the physician will write a report stating their professional opinion on your injuries or illness. While doing so, they will take into consideration the questions or disputes given by the insurance company. You or your attorney will receive a copy of your report in which you both can review together.
Can you challenge the results of your independent medical exam?
Independent medical exams do carry a lot of weight when it comes to workers’ compensation cases if one has been requested. Therefore, it can become difficult to go against these doctors’ opinions.
However, there are some cases where you may be able to challenge the results of your independent medical examination. For example, if you can prove that there was incorrect information given about your medical history or if there was a mistake, you can let your attorney know and it will be presented in court. Our attorneys will review the IME against your medical records as well as witness statements and any other applicable evidence. We also look to see what tests were performed during the IME and what questions you were asked. If we believe that the exam was not thorough enough, or that it did not properly assess your ability to work, we can help you dispute the claims.
If you have recently been injured at work and need to file for workers’ compensation benefits, our attorneys at Claggett & Sykes Law Firm are here to assist you. We can also help you file objections, question the doctor, and ask for another medical evaluation. Call our Las Vegas office or submit our contact form to schedule a consultation today.
We are not simply a personal injury firm. We are trial lawyers who take on catastrophic injury, brain injury, and wrongful death cases. These cases are different than most personal injury cases and the needs of these cases cannot be met by law firms that take on just any case.
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