Sunday, November 29, 2009

Is An Indpendent Medical Examination Really Independent?

What do you think? NO an independent examination is not independent but rather ADVERSE to your interests and those of your treating physicians.

I have previously posted on this issue months ago but it is such an important issue, I think it's necessary to discuss this issue once again. There is NEVER a good intention on the part of an insurance company in having you seen by THEIR doctor for an "independent" medical examination. The intent is to cut off your benefits and limit their exposure PERIOD!

As a former insurance company attorney I have schedule hundreds of "independent medical examinations" for injured workers. The term independent medical examination is not always accurate. Though there are reputable doctors who will perform a thorough examination and write a neutral report, there are many who will do and say almost anything. Many defense attorneys believe it is their job to chose the " doctors who will do and say almost anything"!

When I worked as a defense attorney I thought having a neutral independent doctor was truly important. It helped me assess and fully understand the injured worker's claim. It also established credibility before the compensation judges. Later in my career as a defense attorney I began to get flack from a kool-aide drinking "old time" defense lawyer who chastised me for choosing these independent physicians and telling me I needed to get on board and work with the "adverse examiners". Despite the fact that this attorney had only gone to a full hearing a handful of times in the past decade, he was going to try his hardest to win a case at almost any cost! This didn't sit well with my years of experience and the reputation I developed. This was one of the reasons I now represent only injured workers and share these stories.

An employer and workers compensation insurer have the right to have you seen for an independent medical examination or adverse examination regardless of whether your claim is admitted or denied. They need to reimburse you for your expenses and must schedule it within 150 miles of your home. Keep in mind that this doctor is not nor will he ever be your treating physician. There is no doctor patient confidentiality, everything you tell the doctor will be shared with the employer and insurer. Sometimes the examinations last a few minutes and other times they can take close to an hour with an extensive physical examination and questions.

You will usually receive the report as an attachment to a service of Maximum Medical Improvement or a Notice of Intent to Discontinue Befits in the mail. As this is the goal of the adverse examination, your medical and/or wage loss benefits will likely be stopped as the result of your "independent medical examination". In addition the report will likely maintain that your current medical treatment is unnecessary.

As a defense attorney I understand the flaws in these reports and the mistakes that can be made in preparation for the same. As your attorney I will surgically dissect these reports and the accompanying letters providing the physician with "foundation" or their opinion. My job is to look for contradictory medical evidence and obtain an opinion from your own treating physician and if necessary a truly independent doctor. If you would like to discuss your claim in more detail, feel free to contact me directly at 651-324-9514. All calls are returned within a few hours. Don't be afraid to contact me after hours as I personally return all calls.

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