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There is No Such Thing as an Independent Medical Examination 

When someone is injured in a car accident and requires medical attention, an insurance company will likely being paying for at least some of the medical bills. Certain tools are available to insurance companies to ensure that the treatment they are paying for is legitimate. One way that insurance companies have been allowed to do this is by ordering the injured party to undergo and “independent medical examination” or “IME”. The examination is done by a physician chosen by the insurance company. The name, however, is very misleading. The name does not reflect some important details about independent medical examinations. For example, It has become common practice for insurance companies to use this power to choose to hire specific doctors that consistently minimize or deny any claim that the injured party is able to bring.

Independent medical examination doctors that are chosen by the insurance companies commonly testify about the policy holder’s injuries during litigation. It is worth it for insurance companies pay the bill for independent medical examinations because the physician they select may provide powerful testimony. In some cases, the physician may provide testimony that helps to dismiss the insurance provider’s obligation to pay altogether. An examination that ultimately has such a beneficial result for the insurance company can hardly be said to be independent. Doctors stand to gain a steady stream of business by performing independent examinations. These doctors can expect to earn repeated business with the insurance companies by producing findings form these reports that are in the insurance companies favor. The incentive to please these companies ultimately harms the injured policy holders that lose out on benefits. Benefits that would be administered if the examination were done by a truly independent physician. Cases where independent medical examination doctors have been caught lying should come as no surprise to anyone that works to represent these patients.

Insurance companies have encouraged independent medical examination doctors to employ unusual methods when examining patients. In some cases, doctors have observed patient behavior while they are waiting in the waiting room before the appointment has begun. Doctors have recorded information on how patients move while taking off clothing before the examination. These findings are included as part of their official reports. Failure to show up to the exam is treated particularly harshly by IME doctors. Patients that do not attend their appointments are on the hook for the appointment fee and are placed on suspension from payment for other medical bills by the insurance company.

Patients that are required to attend these examinations must prepare themselves ahead of time to reduce the risk of an unfair evaluation. Patients should familiarize themselves with their medical history. They should also be conscious of exactly what is ailing them and distinguish issues the developed after the accident from those that were preexisting. IME doctors are likely to ask and look for preexisting issues just as critically if not more so that he or she looks for those caused by the accident.

The conduct of the patient during the examination can make major difference in how the findings ultimately affect the claim being made. Patients should be as honest with the doctor as possible and should try to appear confident and comfortable while answering questions during the examination. Having fully grasped how an accident has affected you as a patient will help to reduce the occurrence of answers that are unclear or waiver. Patients that seem unsure about how they are feeling or are unable to put it into words and articulate what they are feeling allow the doctor to cast doubt on the legitimacy of their injuries.