An Independent Medical Examination, or insurance medical examination or evaluation ("IME"), is a medical examination scheduled and paid for by the employer's workers compensation insurer. Typically IMEs are used to determine the nature and extent of the injuries of the employee and if additional medical treatment is warranted. They are typically scheduled after the worker has undergone some treatment following a work injury.
The doctor performing the examination typically specializes in the area of injury the claimant has sustained. It could be a neurologist, an orthopedist, a physical rehabilitation specialist, or a chiropractor. It is important that an injured worker prepares for an IME in advance of the examination, to stand a better chance for success in these potentially one–sided examinations.
Since the examination is arranged and paid for the insuring company or state agency, the medical provider's opinion may not be free of bias. They may receive a significant portion of their income from performing IMEs. The written report from the IME may be used to justify the discontinuance of treatment or denial of the claim.
Injured workers who are scheduled for an IME may want to bring a friend to the examination. Having a witness to the examination who took written notes may help to mitigate an IME report with factual errors. Each area of injury must be clearly reported and identified so that is on the written record. Also be sure to find out what the IME doctor's specialty is as the doctor may not be qualified to examine the claimant based on the nature of the injuries sustained.
Injured workers undergoing an IME should consult with a workers compensation attorney. Most workers' compensation attorneys will offer a free consultation to discuss your claim. There is no obligation regarding payment until a representation agreement is signed.