After your work injury your employer has a right to make you go to what is called an “Independent Medical Examination” or “IME.” The IME is, basically, an examination by a doctor chosen by your employer who will take your statement of what happened and perform a physical examination. How you conduct yourself during the IME can help or hurt your case. I strongly recommend that all injured workers follow the recommendations below in preparing for an IME.
Before going to the IME, spend an hour or two writing down the history of your injury, including:
- your current complaints based on the injury,
- what things cause your injury to be aggravated,
- 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. Therefore, you should take your written statement to the IME and hand a copy of it to the doctor. It is important that you have a well-organized statement. Then make sure what you say to the IME doctor is in keeping with your written statement. Save the written statement and give a copy of it to your attorney. He or she will be able to use the statement if the things you say in it do not end up in the IME doctor’s record.
You will probably be asked to describe your pain. Since pain is subjective, it is often difficult to describe. You might find it easiest to describe activities that worsen your pain. You should have a list of everyday activities that increase your pain. Be as truthful, accurate, and complete as possible.
Even if your care before the IME is poor, I recommend against complaining bitterly about that care. Instead focus on just describing the facts. If true, tell the IME doctor how the care so far has not worked and yet the company doctor continues giving you that same useless care; or how the company doctor spends more time communicating with the company representative than with you. Recall and apply that old admonition from “Dragnet”—“just the facts, sir, just the facts.”
After the IME, your attorney will be interested in knowing exactly what went on in the examination. Thus, after the IME, take at least one-half hour to write down as much as you can remember of the following:
- what the doctor said,
- what you answered,
- what the doctor did,
- and what if anything was dictated into a recorder,
- the time that you arrived at the office (be as accurate as possible),
- 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.
You need to spend some time to prepare for the IME. By following the guidelines set forth above, you will provide a truthful, accurate, and complete statement of your condition. Hopefully, the IME doctor will then provide your and your employer’s attorneys with similar findings, diagnosis, and recommendations for treatment. Of course, you should spend some time talking to your attorney before any IME. Good luck!