Information About Workers’ Compensation “Independent Medical Exams”

Date:September 29, 2014

Construction Helmet and GlovesIf you have received notice of a medical exam scheduled by your employer or a company that provides workers’ compensation for the employer, you will need to attend this exam.  You might not want to go for any number of reasons, but the law requires that you attend or you will jeopardize receiving your benefits.  If for some reason you cannot make the appointment, it is critical to reschedule it.  Not showing up for a scheduled appointment will hurt any workers’ compensation claim. Your workers’ compensation lawyers in Manchester, NH at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC can help get an exam rescheduled.  The doctor will write a report which will be sent to the employer, the insurance company, and your lawyer, so it is important to cooperate and provide detailed and accurate information.

Seeing a new medical provider can often cause some concern, especially since the exam is with someone who is not your own doctor.  But there are things you can and should do to make the exam as useful as possible.  First and foremost is giving the examiner a solid and honest understanding of your medical problem.  Be honest with the doctor and do not try to hide information that you think might hurt your case, such as prior accidents or illnesses.  Make sure to let the examiner know how your medical problem affects you.  Do not exaggerate, but be prepared to provide full information on how your medical problem impacts your life.

Most of the medical providers who do these independent evaluations for the employers and insurance companies perform a great number of exams. The doctor may appear friendly, but always keep in mind that they are paid by the employer or insurance company. They are not trying to help you. In such a situation it is easy to forget important details of the significant impact of your medical problems. Preparing a list of how you are impacted helps you to remember the important details so that you can provide accurate and important information about the impact of your injury or disease. It’s OK to bring your list into the appointment and refer to it.

It is well known that various medical problems impact people differently which is why it is so important to detail to the provider fully and accurately how the symptoms of your medical problem affect you.  Tell the doctor how the medical problem impacts your daily life and if you are unable to work, and why the medical problem would prohibit you from performing your prior, or any, work duties.

The doctor will evaluate your description of symptoms, signs they can observe, and possibly the results of tests.  The symptoms are your description of how the medical problem is impacting you. Since this is based on your description, it is given lesser consideration in evaluating your medical problem. Signs are things that a doctor can observe. Since signs are not considered as subjective as symptoms, they are given more weight in a disability determination.

The doctors are not trying to help you and are generally looking to see if the description of your problems match up with the medical records they have reviewed, and their observation of you during the appointment. The doctor will be evaluating you the entire time you are together and looking to see if you may be exaggerating your symptoms. They will observe how you walk, stand, and sit. They might observe how you climb onto an exam table. Don’t overstate your symptoms at this exam, but be sure to not hide them. If something is hard to do or you’re in pain or discomfort, let the doctor know.

It is permissible, even advisable, to bring a family member, friend or someone from your lawyer’s office to the appointment.  Having someone with you can help you focus on providing accurate and detailed information to the doctor, and importantly can provide a witness to how thoroughly you were evaluated.  While there are certainly many times that doctors who do these independent evaluations are thorough and provide accurate and helpful information for your case, there are other times that the doctors  do not fully evaluate you or get full information about your symptoms. It is helpful to have your witness keep track of how much time the doctor spends with you. Having a witness to the evaluation can help your claim if the report from the independent evaluation is not helpful.

During the evaluation the doctor may suggest testing.  You have a right to refuse testing, though there are times when tests can help your case.  If you have concerns about taking a test, it is permissible to let the doctor know you want to think about taking it. In such a situation, it is best to talk to your attorney about the potential need for such testing and how taking or refusing a test can impact your case.

After the evaluation is completed, you and any witness to the evaluation should make some notes about how it went. It is useful to document how much time was spent with the doctor during the evaluation and what was done and said. Jotting down some notes right after the exam can help you remember what was done and said.  Your lawyer will want to know how you think the exam went, so it is good to check in with their office shortly after the exam is completed.

Your workers’ compensation lawyers in Manchester, NH at the Law Office of Manning and Zimmerman hope this information helps you understand and prepare for a workers’ compensation independent medical examination. For more information, including two very in-depth videos about workers’ compensation law, click here. Should you have any questions or concerns about an exam, be sure to talk to your Manchester workers’ compensation lawyer’s office about it, preferably before the exam is conducted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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