The Designated Doctor Exam: What You Need to Know
When you’ve sustained work-related injuries, your employer’s insurance company may disagree with the opinions voiced by the medical professionals tasked with your diagnosis and treatment. If so, the insurance company may request an independent medical examination (IME) by a doctor who is not involved in your medical care.
The Independent Medical Examination
An IME is conducted by a medical professional who has no connection to an injured employee, his attorney, his employer, or his employer’s insurer. In Texas, this medical professional is known as the designated doctor, and he is selected by the Division of Workers’ Compensation to settle disputes regarding the employee’s medical condition. IMEs have multiple purposes, including:
- Identifying the cause, extent, and medical treatment of a work-related injury.
- Determining if the patient has reached the point of maximum medical improvement.
- Assessing whether or not any permanent impairment exists after treatment.
The Designated Doctor
The results of an IME can have a huge impact on the outcome of your case. Workers’ compensation judges frequently view designated doctors as more experienced and objective than treating physicians, even if that often isn’t the case. The designated doctor might form his opinions regarding a patient’s condition after only a very brief visit, and he may not even perform a physical examination.
Anything you say to the doctor can be used against you, since the information you provide during an IME will be relayed to the insurance company. The information obtained may then be used to cut off your medical benefits. The insurance company might claim that you are noncompliant with the medical treatment program, or that maximum medical improvement has already been reached.
Preparing for the Independent Medical Examination
An attorney can help you prepare for the IME prior to the examination, and fight any adverse results from the examination in court, if necessary. To learn more about what the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., can do for you, visit us on Facebook.