What Is an IME, and Do I Need One?

What Is an IME, and Do I Need One?
Last Updated on July 6, 2023 by Carlos Lopez

You’ve been injured at work and have spent a lot of time working toward getting better.

You’ve attended all doctor and therapy appointments, you’ve had surgery or other procedures, and you’ve taken things easy while you recuperate.

Now your employer’s insurance company is saying you need to have an IME before your case can proceed, and before you can continue to receive your workers’ compensation benefits .

What is an IME, and do you really need to have one done?

An IME – Independent Medical Examination – is part of workers’ compensation cases where the insurance company disputes a portion of the care your treating doctor provides.

This can be if they question your official diagnosis, whether you need surgery you’re being referred for, or if you’re physically capable of returning to work even though your doctor says you aren’t.

During an IME, you will be thoroughly examined and tested by a doctor who is supposed to be an independent third-party.

You may be asked to undergo physical tests such as lifting certain amounts of weight or bending over to pick something off the floor.

After the examination, the doctor writes a report on your condition, status to return to work, and whether you are still eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in that doctor’s opinion.

In most cases, an IME is ordered by your employer’s insurance company.

However, they also can be ordered by the judge or hearing officer if there’s a portion of your case that’s been disputed.

Do I Need to Cooperate with an IME?

If you’ve been ordered to submit to an IME, you may wonder if you actually have to show up.

After all, you trust your doctor and you know you really are injured, so why should you need to go to another appointment?

If you want to be able to keep your workers’ compensation benefits, you need to comply with an IME if ordered.

In cases where your attorney thinks that an IME is being unjustly ordered, they can attempt to fight the order.

However, there’s still a very high chance that you’ll still be required to go to an IME even if your attorney fights it.

It’s best to just show up for the IME and do your best to perform all the tasks to the best of your ability and answer the questions truthfully.

If it comes to light that you didn’t perform the way you physically can in the IME or you lied when answering the doctor’s questions, your workers’ compensation case could be in serious jeopardy.

To give you the best chance of maintaining your workers’ compensation benefits, show up to the IME when you’re asked to and cooperate fully with the attorney.

As always, if you have any questions about why you’re being asked to do an IME or any other issues surrounding your case, talk with your attorney.

How to Prepare for an IME

Knowing what to expect can help alleviate some of the stress associated with an IME. Preparation is key!

Gathering Medical Records

As a crucial part of preparing for an Independent Medical Examination (IME), assembling your medical records requires detailed attention and thoroughness.

These records act as a comprehensive guide to your health history and play a key role in the impartial examination carried out by the IME examiner.

Medical records are a compilation of various types of information regarding your health, medical history, treatments, and consultations with healthcare providers.

For an IME, these are the pieces of the puzzle that give the examiner an understanding of your health situation.

Types of Records to Gather

There are different types of records you should include in your collection:

  1. Physician’s records: These are the records from doctors who have treated you in the past or are currently treating you. They provide information about diagnoses, treatments, prognosis, and your response to treatments.
  2. Hospital records: If you have been admitted to a hospital or undergone surgery, these records can be beneficial. They include operative reports, admission and discharge summaries, and nursing notes.
  3. Diagnostic test results: This includes results from imaging studies like X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans. Laboratory test results such as blood tests or biopsy reports should also be included.
  4. Physical therapy records: If you have undergone physical therapy or rehabilitation, records of these sessions can be valuable, providing evidence of your recovery process and response to treatment.
  5. Pharmacy records: Prescription records can highlight the medications you have been prescribed and how long you’ve been taking them.

How to Obtain Medical Records

Obtaining your medical records can take some time and effort, but it is well within your rights as a patient. In most jurisdictions, you have the right to view and receive copies of your medical records, although some fees may apply.

  1. Contact the appropriate department: This is usually the records or health information department of the hospital or clinic where you received treatment.
  2. Submit a written request: You may need to fill out a form or submit a letter to formally request your records. Be sure to specify the records you need.
  3. Follow up: Keep track of your requests and make sure to follow up if there is a delay in receiving your records.

Reviewing Medical Records

Once you have gathered your medical records, it’s important to review them carefully.

Check for accuracy and completeness, as errors in these records could impact the IME.

If you find errors, you have the right to request corrections.

To summarize, the task of gathering your medical records may seem daunting but it’s a vital part of preparing for an IME.

By organizing and reviewing your health information, you can assist the examiner in gaining an accurate and comprehensive picture of your health history.

In the context of an IME, this could significantly influence the course of your legal case or insurance claim.

Physical and Mental Preparedness

As you approach an Independent Medical Examination (IME), there are important aspects of physical and mental preparedness that you should consider.

It’s a thorough process that not only revolves around your physical condition but also your mental readiness, which can have a significant impact on the outcome of the examination.

Physical Preparedness

For the physical part of the examination, here are some tips to prepare:

  1. Take Care of Your Health: Leading up to the examination, try to maintain a healthy lifestyle as much as possible. Proper nutrition, regular exercise (if possible), and adequate sleep can improve your overall health and well-being.
  2. Keep Track of Symptoms: Be observant and take note of any symptoms related to your health condition. These might include levels of pain, discomfort, physical limitations, or any side effects from medication.
  3. Avoid Exaggeration or Understatement: During the examination, honestly and accurately report your symptoms and limitations. Both exaggeration and understatement can lead to a misinterpretation of your condition.

Mental Preparedness

An IME can be mentally taxing, as well. It’s vital to ensure you are mentally prepared for this process:

  1. Understanding the Process: Familiarize yourself with the IME process. Knowing what to expect can help to alleviate any stress or anxiety you may feel.
  2. Prepare for Questions: Be ready to answer questions about your medical history, your symptoms, the impact of your condition on your daily activities, and any treatments you have received.
  3. Remain Calm and Composed: It’s normal to feel anxious or stressed. However, try to stay calm and composed during the examination. Remember, the purpose of the IME is to assess your current condition impartially, not to judge you.
  4. Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to seek emotional support from friends, family, or a mental health professional. This can help you manage stress and anxiety associated with the examination.

Remember, an IME is a neutral evaluation and not a regular medical appointment.

The doctor performing the examination does not establish a traditional doctor-patient relationship with you.

Therefore, being well-prepared both physically and mentally is crucial for ensuring the most accurate representation of your health condition during the examination.

Taking these steps for preparation can aid in presenting a clear, comprehensive picture of your health status, which can significantly impact your legal case or insurance claim.

Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Washington, D.C.

When you’ve been hurt at work, you deserve to be fully compensated for your injuries.

At Lopez Law Firm, our team works with you to help you get the help you need so all you have to worry about is getting better. Schedule your consultation today!


  1. Peyton Sloan says:

    Article: What Is an IME, and Do I Need One?

    Comment: IMEs sound like a pain, but maybe theyre necessary to prove injury severity?

  2. Zendaya says:

    Article: What Is an IME, and Do I Need One?

    Comment: IMEs are like exams for adults – scary and nerve-wracking. But sometimes, necessary evil!

    • clopez@lopezlawfirmdc.com says:

      I completely disagree! IMEs are not scary or nerve-wracking. They are essential for accurate medical evaluations. If you want to make informed decisions about your health, IMEs are a valuable tool. Embrace them!

  3. Cadence says:

    Article: What Is an IME, and Do I Need One?

    Comment: IMEs are a pain, but hey, at least you get to sit in the waiting room for hours!

    • clopez@lopezlawfirmdc.com says:

      Actually, I found IMEs to be quite efficient. Its important to remember that these assessments play a vital role in determining medical conditions accurately. While the waiting room experience may vary, the ultimate goal is to receive proper medical care.

  4. Edwin Koch says:

    Article: What Is an IME, and Do I Need One?

    Comment: IME sounds like a fancy acronym. Do we really need more confusing medical jargon?

  5. Danny Perry says:

    IMEs are just a waste of time and money. Who needs em, really?

  6. Greyson says:

    IMEs are just another way for insurance companies to deny claims. Its a scam!

  7. Kamari Romero says:

    Comment: IMEs sound like a total waste of time and money. Who needs em anyway?

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