March 22, 2021

What Not to Say to a Workers Comp Doctor

For many workers' compensation claims, injured workers will need to complete an independent medical examination or IME. This practice is typically ordered by an employer's insurance company in order to verify the employee's case prior to disbursing payment. Given IMEs's importance and knowing individuals may be intimidated by the process, the article below outlines ways to prepare for an appointment with a workers comp doctor and not jeopardize a claim.

stethoscope on work injury claim form

What is an Independent Medical Examination?

An independent medical examination consists of a doctor selected by an employer's workers' compensation insurance company evaluating your injuries and determining how long it will take for you to likely recover. This part of the workers' compensation claim process is in addition to being checked out by the employee's primary care physician.

Prior to the appointment, it is best to prepare ahead of time by doing the following:

  • Dressing well and arriving early
  • Being polite and friendly
  • Review the following questions that typically get asked during an IME doctor:
    • Do you have any pre-existing conditions or past injuries?
    • When did your symptoms and pain start?
    • What is the severity of your injuries?
    • What limitations have your injuries caused?
    • What occurred during the accident?
    • Any symptoms from before, during, and after the accident?
    • Did you receive another diagnosis from your primary care physician?

Five Things Not To Say To A Workers Comp Doctor

Once the scheduled visit date arrives, injured employees will want to avoid these five mistakes to ensure their claim is not negatively impacted.

Exaggeration of Symptoms

Individuals should avoid exaggerating the pain or complications that they experience as an IME doctor will likely know how to tell when a patient is lying. Additionally, the IME will likely consist of a pain assessment and medical imaging that can help determine what an appropriate amount of pain would be for an injury.

Bad-Mouthing an Employer

While it may be tempting to let resentment or hurt feelings come out, the medical examination is not the appropriate venue for it. Assume that everything discussed in an IME will eventually reach the employer so why do anything to jeopardize a claim being successfully processed.

Omitting Details About the Accident

Injured individuals should relate all details surrounding their workplace accident and not withhold information, even if it may seem like it would negatively impact their claim. Full transparency is essential, and when in doubt, write out a summary of the accident beforehand and bring it to the appointment.

Not Disclosing Information About Past Injuries

As part of the IME, an individual's medical history will be reviewed by the doctor, meaning it is critical to disclose any past injuries or treatments received. Likewise, a worker should describe their current injury and pain as new and different from their past issues.

Acting in a Way That Does Not Match the Injuries

For the appointment, workers should ensure that they behave in a way that mirrors the injury and its resultant pain. An example is if someone suffered a dislocated shoulder requiring a sling. They need to wear the sling to their visit and not overexert themselves in a way that may lead to the claim's legitimacy being questioned.