Sometimes a treating physician orders medical treatment that the employer and its insurance carrier refuse to pay for recommended treatment. Other times a dispute may exist as to the ability of the employee to work. In these instances an Independent Medical Examination (often referred to as an IME) is an exam that can be requested by the employer or the employee, in order to get a neutral opinion regarding the injured workers’ medical condition.
The Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court maintains a list of doctors authorized to perform IME’s and will make the selection based upon the type of injury and questions to be addressed. Sometimes an IME is ordered at the outset of the case, and sometimes they are ordered later, when you are receiving your benefits, to determine whether or not you have healed from your injury and whether you should still be receiving benefits.
An IME can address the following issues:
- whether the employee is able to perform any gainful employment temporarily or permanently;
- what physical restrictions, if any, would be imposed on the employee’s employment;
- whether the employee has reached maximum medical improvement;
- the existence and extent of any permanent physical impairment.
If the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court authorizes the Independent Medical Exam, the employer is responsible for payment of the IME charges. The IME may consist of a review of medical records, an exam, or both. The IME physician will then issue a written report of the finding and answer any questions posed by either party.
An IME report is admissible in any proceeding before the Court, but it is important to know that they are not insurmountable should the IME not fall in your favor.
Your attorney may be able to find inconsistencies in your IME that can discredit it, or they might be able to show that your treating physician has a better understanding of your condition. Talk to your lawyer about having them review your IME report to determine a strategy in your case.