The term “independent medical examination” is a misnomer. In Connecticut, the respondent may send the injured employee to a doctor of its choice for an examination. However, this doctor is anything but “independent”. This physician is paid by the employer’s insurance company to conduct the exam and to write a report. When the injured employee is examined by this physician the rules of patient-doctor confidentiality do not apply. The doctor is not “treating” the injured worker; he is only examining him. Typically this examination is scheduled for the purposes of determining whether the injured worker has a work capacity. A frequent scenario is when the employee’s physician has rendered an opinion that the injured work is temporarily and totally incapacitated. The respondent will schedule an IME for the purposes of trying to obtain an opinion from a non-treating physician that the claimant has work capacity.
Another scenario in which an IME is used to determined if a claimant has reached maximum medical improvement, and if so, to perform a permanent partial impairment rating. Often, the carrier will attempt to get an opinion that the claimant has reached maximum medical improvement, and therefore, is no longer entitled to either temporary total or temporary partial benefits. Another reason for sending the claimant to an IME is on the issue of causation itself. There may be a dispute with the carrier as to whether the conditions at work could have caused the injury that the claimant is alleging. In the event that the IME confirms causation, that should end the argument.
When attending an IME, the claimant should attempt to bring any copies of CD scans or films from any prior diagnostic testing for the IME to review. The claimant should keep track of how long the examination takes, as well as what questions the doctor asks and what range of motion exercises he is asked to perform. By keeping track of these items, your attorney can use this information for an effective cross-examination of the IME physician.
Under CT law, you are entitled to bring your own physician to the IME examination with you. As of matter of practicality, this is not cost effective to accomplish. The question of whether an IME examination can be tape-recorded is really up to the IME physician.
Frequently, the question arises as to whether a claimant has to attend the IME examination. The short answer is yes. The Connecticut statutes allow a respondent to suspend benefits in the event that the claimant does not submit to the IME examination. This means that if you are receiving any type of weekly indemnity benefits, they will be subject to be terminated or suspended in the event that the injured worker does not participate in the IME examination.