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.
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.
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
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]