You will reach the stage in your worker’s compensation claim where you will be examined by a doctor of your choice. This exam may generate the most important evidence in your claim. I strongly recommend that you do the following:
- Needless to say, always tell the truth. Never exaggerate or overstate your symptoms. On the other hand, do not understate your symptoms, either. This is your one chance to tell it all.
- Be sure to write down the time and place of your independent medical examination (IME, for short). It is important that you make it to this appointment on time.
- Before going to the IME, spend an hour or two writing down the history of your injury, your current complaints based on the injury, what things aggravate your injury, and what care and treatment you have been given for your injury. You will have only a limited amount of time to describe these things to the IME doctor. It is important that you have a well-organized statement to give to the doctor. Therefore, you should take your written statement to the IME and use it to make sure that you tell the doctor a complete statement of these things. Then, save the written statement and return it to me. If the things in your statement do not end up in the IME doctor’s record, this may be useful in the future.
- Remember, although this is a doctor of our choosing who will be fair and impartial. The doctor is not in our pocket. He (or she) will be using the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment which has certain “tests” to determine if a patient is faking or exaggerating their symptoms.
- The best way to go into the IME is to be alert, relaxed and polite. The IME is a fairly routine process. You are not being singled out. Don’t be defensive.
- A major part of the IME will consist of you answering<!–more–> written or oral questions or giving a statement to the doctor. Answer all questions politely and truthfully. Don’t try to fake anything or unreasonably exaggerate any problem. Any experienced doctor will quickly discover this and it could ruin your case. Take your time in answering questions to make sure that you answer each question clearly and truthfully. Answer only the questions that are asked and don’t ramble on.
- You will probably be asked to describe your pain. Paint is often difficult to describe. You might find it easiest to explain activities that worsen your pain. You should have a list of everyday activities that increase your pain.
- When talking to the physician try to be as accurate as possible. Explain when and how you were hurt. Tell him your current symptoms in as neutral a way as possible.
- Do not complain bitterly about your previous treatment. Don’t say things about the company doctor being in cahoots with the employer. The IME doctor’s evaluation won’t be made better by complaints.
- After the IME, I am interested in knowing just what went on in the examination. Therefore, after the examination, take at least one half-hour to write down as much as you can remember of what the doctor said, what you answered, what the doctor did, and what, if anything, was dictated into a recorder. Note as accurately as possible the time that you arrived at the office, the time that you were placed in the examining room, when the doctor entered the room, and when the doctor left the room. It may be important to have an exact record of the time the doctor spent with you in the examination room.
If you follow these directions, you will provide the IME doctor with an accurate description of your work-injury condition. This will lead to a clear and reliable IME report that can held your claim. Of course, check with your attorney for more suggestions.