How you conduct yourself during an independent medical examination can help or hurt your case

communication-skills-for attending-IME

After your work injury and during the course of your workcover claim, your workcover insurer has a right to and will make you go to what is called an “Independent Medical Examination” or “IME”, at “reasonable” intervals.

The IME is, basically, an examination by a doctor chosen by your insurer who will perform a physical or psychiatric examination, and who will also, often, take your statement of what happened.

Whilst we have written countless articles about IMEs, what their real agenda is, how they operate, how you can “prepare” yourself as best as possible etc;  in this article we highlight that the way in which you conduct yourself during the IME can help or hurt your case, and provide some additional,  important recommendations in preparing for an IME.

How you conduct yourself during an independent medical examination can help or hurt your case

The manner in which you (the injured worker) conduct yourself during the independent medical examination (IME) can really help or hurt your case.

We strongly recommend that all injured workers follow the recommendations set below in preparing for an IME.

Before attending your independent medical examination (whether it is the first one or the 20th one!), please go and sit somewhere quietly and spend an hour or two or three writing down the full history of your injury, in the form of a “statement“. If it is your 20th IME, then simply UPDATE your history (statement) and add any new additional information and evidence.

Things to write down on your “history” template must include:

  • your current physical and/or psychological complaints based on and related to the injury you suffered
  • what things cause your injury to be aggravated or exacerbated (i.e. exercise, lifting, driving, working (!), etc)
  • what care and treatment you have been and are being given for your injury, including any psychological treatment you may now be receiving/needing
  • It is important that you have a well-organised statement – easy to read (use bullet points, and do not write an essay) and chronological
  • Save the written statement and consider giving a copy of it to your lawyer as well (for [future] reference)

Why a statement?

As most of you know all too well, IMEs are usually very short (30-40 min) and you will have only a very limited amount of time to describe all these things to the IME doctor. Many IMEs also tend to interrupt injured workers when they are trying to explain their history and how the injury is affecting them, and workcover insurance companies (i.e. the case manager) will NOT provide the IME with all your relevant medical information, but will be, deliberately, very selective in what information and evidence they provide. We therefore believe it is very important you take your written statement to the IME and hand a copy of it to the IME doctor.

It is important that you have a well-organised, easy-to-read and chronological statement, which summarises everything. Then, obviously make sure what you say to the IME doctor is in keeping with your written statement.

By saving a copy of your statement, you (and your lawyer) will be able to use this statement if the things you say in it do not end up in the IME doctor’s report, or get “twisted”.

For example, you will probably be asked to describe your pain. Since pain is very subjective, it is often difficult to describe. You might find it easier to describe the activities that worsen your pain, and as such we recommend you have a list of everyday activities that increase your pain in your statement.

Additional Tips

Be as truthful, accurate, and complete as possible. Try not to complain bitterly about for example the “bad care” you are receiving at the hands of the insurer, instead focus on just describing just the facts.

If true, tell the IME doctor how the care so far has not worked and yet the insurer continues to deny you the care you have been prescribed, such as physiotherapy, pain management, counseling, surgery etc.

After the IME, take at least an hour to write down as much as you (and your support person) can remember of the examination:

  • 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 IME’s 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 IME doctor) spent with you in the examination room.
  • Consider recording the examination
By writing a statement (and handing a copy over to the IME) and by following the tips above you will provide a truthful, accurate, and complete statement of your condition. Hopefully, the IME doctor will then provide you and your insurer with similar findings, diagnosis, and recommendations for treatment, and will be less likely to fabricate stories, twist your medical history, and be biased!

Also read the useful tips provided in our popular article titled Disillusion yourself that the IME is independent

[post dictated by workcovervictim and manually transcribed on behalf of WCV]

 

 



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10 Responses to “How you conduct yourself during an independent medical examination can help or hurt your case”

  1. I have been to 2 IME recently, 1 for legal proceedings and 1 for evaluation of injury after a conciliation.  On both accounts the doctors actually said that the condition is still from the original injury and that it needs to be repaired now, he also informed me I may develop osteo arthritis later down the track as a result of the surgery.  I went in to the IME apprehensive to be on the safe side of caution but I then found that both IME that I went to were independant

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  2. Some IME’s are ok. I’ve found there’s a better class of IME easily accessed if you insist on seeing someone who allows you to bring a support person into the examination with you.

    I gave an 11 page statement to the IME who assessed me first. My statement documented all the bullying that happened to me during my 3 month attempt to return to work. He referred to it in his reports as: “She gave me some document to read.” And went on to make no further reference to it or its contents!

    You guessed it, he wrote a really biased report about me. You know one of those ones where he says I said things I definitely didn’t say, and raves on about I rejected the return to work and that’s why it messed up! It was all my fault that I felt humiliated by having my colleagues tell me that I had a serious mental illness and they didn’t feel safe working with me, and then refuse to explain what they mean by this statement!

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  3. Having got the whinge off my chest, thanks for the article WCV. I would support the recommendation because it’s greatest value is in documenting your story. The years drag by in the Workover, and if you have chronic psychiatric injuries, it’s easy to forget most of the trauma you’re subjected too. Well it’s not really forgotten if it’s there in your records.

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  4. Injured workers need to be more educated and skilled, we are told to do this and that what are our BS rights etc. but we don’t really realise the full amount of Legal practice behind it! I’m pointing to the RIGHT of recording anything you do with the insurer and its “independent” professionals. Injured workers are not aware that the insurer will use any information can it be on paper or electronic such as videos or audios in Court while the injured worker got NOTHING. We should always bring a voice recorder when meeting an IME, just tell him/her you’re recording and it does not matter what they say, you just keep recording because we have the right to have EVIDENCES!

    I wish I could go back in the time and deal differently regarding my claim and most important I needed a honest Lawyer not a SHARK!

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    Xchangingvictim July 30, 2013 at 6:09 pm
  5. Use your mobile phone to record the IME, just sit it in your pocket with it recording, best way to protect yourself from the 90% of IME’s who are just in it for the $ from insurance companies.

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    Money Not People July 30, 2013 at 11:49 pm
  6. To Luke (the policeman from Sydney), I thought you may like to know that EML treat all injured workers like that. I am in Adelaide have been injured for nearly 3 years now and have just had an IME medical and Permanent Impairment assessment done by the same doctor which took less than 25 minutes total for both who has stated I can go to work 2 x 3 hours weekly building up to full time in 4 – 6 weeks where as I have only done 1 work strengthening  task and had to give up after 1/2 hour because of pain My psychiatrist   and IME psychiatrist has recommended that I do not return to the workforce yet because of my depressions and other thoughts I have also seen an spinal specialist who has recommended me to a spinal surgeon for ? surgery, just thought I get that bit off my chest as I am over the 130 week part and don’t know whats coming around the corner

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  7. Hi would be grateful if anyone can help, am new to the site, after doing a google on IME was looking to find out if this so called SPECIALIST was on the list, so have told my story, registered but still can’t find the area to search this QUACK! Any one help PLZ?

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    • @CGUVictim- welcome to our big family – we do not have ‘lists” of IME on the forum, but you can ask if anyone knows the quack. Also check the Karma bus: http://workcovervictimsdiary.com/workcover-tips/karma-bus/
      and http://www.ratemds.com/

      PS Did you share your story with us involving EOC? If so we tried to email you but your email does not work – if it was you can you contact us again and provide an email address we can contact you on please. Ta

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    • Hi CGUVictim, I don’t know the particular IMEs that you mention in your story, but from my experience, and I’m sure will be echoed by others on this blog, any insurer arranged IME is NOT going to be beneficial to your rehabilitation or to your case.

      There are some great tips on this blog (search IME) concerning how you can protect yourself (as much as possible) from these evil bastards.

      It doesn’t matter how your present on the day, these bastards will write anything. If you have an orthopaedic injury – they will write that it was age related degeneration, or a pre-existing structural problem, anything that is NOT related to your injury will be , in their opinion, the most likely cause of your pain.

      If it is a psych injury, they will interrogate you about you childhood, school, past employment, family issues etc looking to create any other reason why you present with an psychological injury.

      As a reasonably experienced veteran of IMEs (only about 15 to date), I don’t worry so much about what they write. I know that their reports will be full of lies, misquotes, deliberate selective editing etc. It is a well know in Workers Comp Commissions that is what the insurance company does.

      Make sure that you lawyer send you to a well highly respected and well credentialed Specialist to offer their opinion of the insurer’s IME report and conduct their own examination.

      Good luck, it is a hell of a journey, but that God for “Grand Poo” @workcovervictim and her blog (and forum) it continues to help hundreds of injured workers with information and companionship to keep us sane (:-) reasonably sane anyway :-))

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  8. We’re looking for the person who shared a story with us involving EOC – we tried to email a reply but our replies bounce back so we assume the email is fake, we would really like to get in touch before we publish the story – can you please email us via “info@workcovervictimsdiary.com” and provide a contact email? Thanks!

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