Last Updated: 7/6/2023

You've been assigned a time to go to a new doctor to get your Independent Medical Examination (IME). However most injured workers have never done this before.  You don't know what to expect or why you even have to go.  What takes place during an independent medical examination?  Here is a general overview of the process:

The Exam May Start Before the Appointment

Sometimes, the examination starts before you even enter the office. Before the Independent Medical Examination (IME), you may have some paperwork to fill out.  Be sure to check your mailbox to see if the doctor's office or your attorney sent any additional paperwork.  Some doctors' offices might also have a link on their website that allows you to download the paperwork, print it out, and bring it in. These packets contain things like a medical history for you to fill out so that the doctor will have information from you about your injury, prior treatment, and restrictions or impairment.

Giving the Doctor a History

stethoscope on doctors notebookOne of the primary elements of an independent medical exam is the history.  Remember to be as accurate as possible.  During this part of the exam, the doctor will ask you about not only the history of the injury, but your work history as well. This is important because it gives the doctor a clearer picture of what happens at your workplace and how you fit into it.  It helps them gauge whether you are ready to return to work. This is also so they can determine any type of tools used on the job. Complete honesty is the best policy.  If you don't know something, do not make it up or guess, just tell them you don't know or don't remember.

They may also ask about your history in regards to the treatment of the injury. It is important to tell the doctor what you yourself have been doing (e.g., putting ice on the injury) as well as what doctors you have seen for the problem and what those doctors have recommended.  Also, be sure to disclose your family medical history as well (this means telling the doctor of any diseases/ailments in the family).

The Physical Portion of the Exam

Naturally, there is a physical part of the examination. Your height, weight, age, and other physical attributes might be recorded, and the doctor may examine the injury to determine things like range of motion, flexion, adduction, and other movement-related observations. Depending on the type of injury, the doctor may order X-rays or take your blood pressure.  The doctor will be giving an independent evaluation of their opinion on your work injury.

Giving the Doctor Information on Day-to-Day Activities

Another aspect of the IME is the analysis of day-to-day activities. While this may seem trivial, it is important because it allows the doctor to reason out whether the activities are a positive or a negative to your injury.  It also helps the doctor to evaluate your health as a whole.  Even if you feel sensitive about a daily activity that you may feel the doctor either would not understand or would look down on you for, it is important to tell them so they can render the best service possible.  You should also tell the doctor how the day-to-day activities affect you as far as pain and discomfort. 

As with all exams, never be afraid to ask questions. This shows the doctor that you are interested in getting better and most would love to clarify anything that you are unsure of.  Most of all, remember to relax and treat this as any other doctor's visit.

Iowans are beginning to realize that if they have been hurt at work they need to look-out for themselves and protect their best interests. If you would like to learn more about Iowa work injuries including How to Avoid 7 Costly Mistakes If You Are Hurt at Work in Iowa, then request a copy of our Iowa Workers' Compensation book.  We offer this book at no cost because we have seen far too many workers hurt on the job in Iowa who did not learn about their rights and responsibilities until it was too late. Now you can learn about Iowa's workers' compensation laws in the comfort of your own home with no risk or obligation.  If you have questions or need help regarding an injury you sustained at work, contact us online or call (641) 792-3595 and ask to speak with Corey or Erik.

Corey Walker
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With over 28 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.