Tips on Navigating the Compelled Medical Exam (formerly known as an IME)
If you are injured at work in Washington State, you are likely to be covered under the Industrial Insurance Act, either through the state directly or through a self-insured employer. And if your injury is anything other than very minor, you are also likely to experience a CME, also known as an IME – an exam you have to attend, with a doctor you do not get to choose. While the “I” in IME is supposed to stand for ‘Independent”, that is rarely the case.
There are some new restrictions on these exams, (call us for details), but since compelled exams are with us to stay, here are answers to some common questions, and some words of advice.
- Do I have to go? Yes. Your benefits can be suspended or terminated if you do not show up without a good reason. You also must cooperate with reasonable examination requests.
- Can I take someone with me? Yes. Currently, the rules allow for a friend or observer to attend the exam with you, unless it is a mental health evaluation. In that instance, friends or observers are not allowed. The friend or observer cannot be paid for going to the exam with you.
- Can I record the exam? No. This is not allowed under the existing rules, although we are working to change that.
- Do I get any say in who the doctor is or what specialty they have? No. This is entirely up to the Department of Labor & Industries or the self-insured employer.
- Will the doctor tell me anything about my case or the examination? Probably not. The doctor works for the exam company, and the report will go to that agency.
So, given all of that, what steps can you take to get the best possible outcome from a compelled medical exam? Here are a few suggestions.
- Show up on time and cooperate to the best of your ability. Remember that the doctor is writing the report, not you, so the doctor’s side of the story will be recorded. It is almost always better for claim negotiations if you cooperate and remain calm and pleasant.
- You should observe your provider’s restrictions and limitations during the exam. You are not required to injure yourself further. The CME doctor should respect your doctor’s limitations.
- Your friend or observer should take notes. What time did you arrive? How long was the doctor in the room with you? How many times did the doctor have you bend, twist, push, pull and the like? What time did the doctor leave the room? Did the doctor make any comments? These types of notes will help document any inconsistencies that might come up later.
- Correct the record, if necessary. Often, the CME doctor will ask you whether you agree with something he or she is recording. If the information is incorrect, say so. Do not be intimidated into agreeing with information you know is wrong. (However, see #1 above!)
- Make an appointment to see your attending provider shortly after the CME. Your provider should be able to document their findings at about the same time period. If there are differences, the attending provider’s findings are entitled to special consideration.
- Once you receive a copy of the examination from the Department or the self-insured employer, if there are negative conclusions, discuss them with your provider as soon as possible.
If the results of the examination are not what you expect, feel free to give us a call. We would be happy to discuss your case with you.