You probably all know by now that there are too many tricks IME doctors —especially the workcover insurance favourites—have to make an all-inclusive trick list. However, here are a couple of such tricks (or tips!) to keep in mind when your have been sent to undergo an(other) independent medical examination.
IME doctor tricks – Top Tips
- Always assume that you are being watched the whole time you are at the IME exam— from the parking lot to the waiting room and right up until you leave. Workcover insurers love to set up surveillance for these examinations, as it is easier for a private investigator to identify you, and to film you. It’s a lot cheaper too as your whereabouts are known!
- Don’t talk about your case or injury anywhere in the lifts or waiting rooms — you may be overheard, and whoever including a PI) overhears you might later show up in court and distort what you said.
- Be careful when you walk in and out of the building — some IME doctors actually watch you and love to write in their reports that you walked normally on the way in and out, but walked in apparent pain when you were in his presence. Don’t give the doctor a chance to write this in his report — walk the same way, a natural way for you, no matter where you are.
- Don’t say something (eg body part) hurts if it doesn’t. Be honest and don’t exaggerate. The IME doctor may be testing you to see if you’re exaggerating your symptoms (by doing something he knows won’t hurt). A common example is, if your neck is injured, the IME doctor may well deliberately move around the exam room while talking to you to see if you turn your neck to follow him! The IME doctor could also try to distract you with one test while really trying to see if another part of your body hurts (e.g., he could move your arm and see if you turn your head without pain to see what the IME doctor doing). Another trick we have heard of is for the IME doctor to ask you to bring the chair to the desk – the chair will have been deliberately moved by the IME doctor just before you walk into the examination room; and the IME will watch if you pick up the chair, how you pick it up and so forth. So if you alleged that you can’t lift anything over 1 kg, and you pick up the chair with both arms, or hands…you’re “caught”. Same applies to someone who has a back injury but bends over to carry the chair. If your injury prevents you from picking up the chair, or if it hurts to lift, please do not move that chair and say so! Same applies to the IME doctor asking you to undress (eg. take your top off, take your shoes off etc.); s/he will watch how you do it. In other words, don’t lie and don’t try to help your case by exaggerating your injury/injuries. You don’t want to give the IME doctor any ammunition to claim that you are a malingerer or that you magnify your symptoms.
- Despite the fact that the hired gun IME doctor is trying hard to hurt your case, do not exaggerate your symptoms in an effort to compensate for the IME’s doctor (known) bias. This IME doctor wants you to lie to him so he can call all of your injuries into question.
- The IME doctor may even invite you to exaggerate by suggesting that certain body parts may hurt in the hopes that you’ll lie and agree with him. For example, if your neck only hurts when you move it side to side, don’t say that it hurts when you bend it up and down as well. Certain types of injuries will lend themselves to certain painful movements, while not causing pain with others. For example, a shoulder injury may cause it to be painful to lift something with your arm extended in front you, but not cause pain when you lift something with your arm at your side. Describe the pain as it is, not as you think it should be and certainly never as the IME doctor suggests it should be.
- That being said, if the IME doctor does something which causes you pain, be sure to let him/her know even if he doesn’t ask. Otherwise, he will assume that your silence means “no pain.”
Do you know of any other IME tricks and tips for injured workers?
[Post dictated by WCV and manually transcribed on WCV’s behalf]