Are you nervous about your upcoming independent medical exam for your worker’s comp case? Here’s how to prepare for a worker’s comp doctor appointment.
If you have filed a worker’s compensation claim, you will be invited to attend an independent medical examination for worker’s compensation as a part of the process.
This assessment can have a significant impact on the outcome of your compensation claim, so, with high stakes riding on the test, it is therefore essential that you ensure you are well prepared for the examination.
One of the ways that you can prepare is to learn what to expect from your IME worker’s comp exam.
For that reason, we’ve created some handy independent medical examination guidelines to help you make the most of the situation.
Here’s how you should prepare for your worker’s comp doctor appointment.
What Is an Independent Medical Examination?
Your independent medical examination will more than likely be carried out at the request of your employer’s insurance company. This may be because they disagree with your own worker’s comp doctor evaluation. It may also be because they want to get a second opinion.
Your employer or their insurance company may also disagree about whether the injuries or illnesses are work-related or not. The examination will also assess whether any treatments or operations that have been previously recommended are necessary and appropriate.
In some states, you may be able to request your own independent medical examination, although in others this may be done by the worker’s comp agency.
The medical examination will be carried out by an independent physician.
Your IME may result in your claim being reduced or you don’t receive any compensation at all.
The outcome of your IME may also be that your initial assessment was correct and that the claim still stands.
How to Prepare for Your Worker’s Comp Doctor Appointment
With so much riding on your independent medical examination, it is essential that you prepare thoroughly for the appointment. Not being able to answer a question or providing the wrong information may result in damage to your claim.
Before attending the independent medical examination, you must make sure to do the following in preparation:
- Find out what information the Employer’s insurance company has provided
- Learn the questions that the physician has been told to ask
- Familiarize yourself with your medical records
- List your current symptoms
- Familiarize yourself with the course of treatment you’re receiving
- Review the accident
By following all of these points in preparation for your appointment, you will have greater success in your worker’s comp doctor appointment. This will hopefully result in a better outcome for your case.
Find out What Information the Employer’s Insurance Company Has Provided
The claims adjuster from your employer’s insurance company may have written a letter to the independent medical examination doctor. This letter may describe your illness or injuries and give details of the treatments you’ve received or are currently undergoing.
It is essential that you know exactly what your employee’s insurance company has told the physician carrying out the examination.
By asking to review the letter before your appointment, you’ll get a chance to correct any mistakes that have been made in the information about your case.
Request a copy of this letter in writing, and file a copy with the state worker’s compensation agency where you originally submitted your initial claim.
Learn the Questions That the Physician Has Been Told to Ask
In their letter to the doctor conducting the independent medical examination, the employer’s insurers will have specified the question that they want answering.
It is essential that you learn these questions so that you can prepare adequately.
Thoroughly read your copy of the letter that you have requested from the insurers and prepare an answer for each question.
Familiarize Yourself With Your Medical Records
The doctor that is carrying out your independent medical examination will probably already have all of the medical records that are relevant to your claim. This will include information about any previous injuries that you might have had to the same part of the body.
It is likely that you will be asked about injuries that you may have had. It is essential that you are honest about them. Don’t hide them or try and make them appear less significant than they were.
Make sure to highlight any differences between your current condition and any previous injuries that have affected that part of your body.
List Your Current Symptoms
It is essential that the doctor carrying out the independent medical examination knows about your current pain levels. In addition to the main areas affected by your injury, make sure you are able to list all of the additional symptoms of the injury that you are still experiencing.
These might include limitations in your movement or ability to carry out simple everyday activities such as walking, or grooming.
You may be experiencing referred pain. This could mean that there are pains elsewhere in your body as a result of your injury. Make sure that you mention all of these things in your appointment. There is nothing that is too small to mention.
Familiarize Yourself With the Course of Treatment You’re Receiving
During your independent medical examination, you will be asked about your previous and current treatments for your injury.
Look through your records and notes and make sure that you are clear on the dates and types of treatments that you’ve received. In addition to this, you’ll need to include any surgeries or procedures you’ve had.
You’ll need to have a good knowledge of all of this information. If you can’t remember specifics, that’s fine. For example, remembering the dosage of medication, or the name of the prescribed drug can be tough. What is important is that you remember what the medicine was for.
Review the Accident
The doctor will ask you for specific details about the injury. They’ll ask how the accident happened.
Worker’s compensation works on a no-fault system; however, the employer’s insurer will want to be sure that the accident actually relates to your job.
The doctor may be looking for discrepancies in your store. If there are inconsistencies between accounts, this could set alarm bells ringing.
Make sure that all of your answers are consistent. Don’t over-elaborate if you’re asked a question, keep your answers short and to the point.
If your story has changed since you’ve previously reported it, this could make it seem as though you’re lying. This will almost certainly damage your claim.
If you spot any inaccuracies in the information that they already hold, do make sure and point this out.
Attending Your Worker’s Comp Doctor Appointment
When it comes to attending your worker’s comp doctor appointment, it is essential that you conduct yourself well. Think about how you are coming across at all times as this may affect how credible you seem.
Make sure that you are early for your appointment. If you are too late, and you miss your appointment, it could slow your claim down, and it will reflect poorly on you.
Follow these tips to make sure that you come over well.
Think about dressing in a way that is consistent with your injury. If you have been given something to help your injury, you should have this with you. For example, wear a sling, or use the crutches that you may have been provided.
If you have a leg or ankle injury, make sure that you’re wearing suitable footwear. Don’t wear high heels or shoes that may be difficult to walk in.
Take a Friend
It may be a good idea if you take a friend or a family member with you to your appointment.
While friends and family members cannot ask or answer questions on your behalf, they can always take notes and provide emotional support.
Your worker’s comp doctor appointment might be quite stressful. Having support at your appointment will help reduce the stress you might experience.
The doctor in your independent medical examination may ask you some uncomfortable questions. Even though they might have been hired by your employer’s insurers to look for holes in your story, you should always remain polite and calm.
Let the doctor do their job. Maintaining a good attitude to them will reflect well on you.
Some doctors may use tests to ensure you are entirely honest about all of your symptoms. Doctors will often see hundreds of patients in a week and will have a very clear idea of how symptoms present. It is easy for a trained professional to spot a lie.
Be honest about your condition. Don’t overexaggerate, but also don’t underplay your symptoms.
Being honest is essential throughout the entire process.
Getting Legal Advice
Worker’s compensation is an essential benefit for employees who have been injured in the workplace. Approaching your worker’s comp doctor appointment in the right manner is crucial and getting the right legal advice is essential.
For support with your claim, get in touch with the team at Fitzpatrick & Associates. We’d love to listen to your story.