Independent Medical Exams (IME)
Workers Comp Independent Medical Exams (IME’s) can be a great risk management technique when used properly. IME’s are worth the time and cost in certain circumstances.
The final diagnosis and medical opinion by the IME physician may often agree with the current medical treatment and future treatment plan. However, knowing that the injured employee is receiving the proper medical care is of the utmost importance.
This is a great basic article on the mechanics of the IME process. If you are not familiar with the process, I do recommend reading the articles on the first two links in this article.
One possible way to reduce the need for IME’s is to have the proper medical treatment network from the day the claim is reported until its conclusion. Controlling the medical is one of the Five Keys to Reducing Your Workers Comp Costs. The treatment network will usually consist of:
- General Practitioner/Walk-in-clinic – original treating physician
- Orthopedist/Orthopedic Surgeon
- Physical/Occupational Therapy
- Dental – may not be used that often, but still need to have one in place
- Optometrist/Ophthalmologist – may not be used that often, but still need to have one in place
- Ambulatory Surgery Centers
- Radiological – especially MRI’s
- This is not an exhaustive list
Some states require the employer to have a panel of physicians for the employee to choose from when receiving treatment for their injuries. Other states allow the employee to have the choice. The number of states that allow employee choice has been shrinking over the last few years.
Most Third Party Administrators (TPA’s) and carriers will usually have a medical treatment network in place that will save even more on the cost of medical treatment.
The bottom line is the treating physician may be seen by the WC Board or Industrial Commission as the only impartial witness in the claims process.
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