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What is an Independent Medical Examination and Do I Have to Go?

One of the most effective tools that the insurance carrier has to control an Arizona workers compensation claim and terminate benefits is an “Independent Medical Examination”.  Usually, there is nothing “Independent” about it.  In fact, we call them DME’s or “Defense Medical Examination”.  The doctor is a doctor who is chosen by the insurance carrier and is normally more than willing to give whatever opinion is best for the carrier.  There are rare exceptions – if your IME is scheduled with Terry McLean, M.D., Jeff Scott, Sanjay Patel, Peter Mitchell, Peter Campbell, and a handful of others, we have found them to be very independent doctors who give honest opinions.  However, the great majority of IME’s are done by doctors who give opinions that are beneficial to the carrier. 

So the question becomes:  do I have to attend an IME?  The answer is usually yes.  An injured worker usually has to submit to an exam by a company doctor once after an injury “to ascertain the character and extent of the injury occasioned by the accident.”  (ARS 23-908(e)).  After that initial visit, the injured worker is usually free to choose his or her own doctor.  However, the carrier is permitted to have an IME “from time to time” thereafter to check up on the condition of the worker.  An injured worker who refuses to attend an IME or obstructs it can have their benefits suspended.  “From time to time” usually means about once every six months in our experience. 

Bottom line:  if the carrier is sending you for an IME, it is probably to get your claim closed out in the manner that most benefits the insurance carrier.  You should call our experienced Arizona workers compensation attorneys at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley as soon as possible.