Independent Medical Exam (IME) referrals

This post concerns questions that I receive on a frequent basis concerning Independent Medical Exams required by OWCP.

There may not be any hard and fast rules, but remember OWCP can find that the claimant’s conduct is impeding the exam. OWCP will then suspend the case until the claimant fully co-operates with the exam.

The following are the answers to the most common questions I am asked:

1. What is an IME exam?
Answer: An IME exam is a medical exam by a physician selected by the outside contractor employed by OWCP. OWCP does not select the physician. It is the outside contractor that attempts to find a physician in the local where the client resides. OWCP allegedly has an interest in quality control. They do want the exam to be fair and honest.

2. Can the claimant bring someone to observe the exam?
Answer: NO

3. Can the claimant require the doctor to provide a chaperone in the examining room?
Answer: Yes. The doctor should be notified in advance.

4. Can the claimant record the exam?
Answer: If the doctor agrees, yes. Otherwise the answer is no.

5. Can the claimant bring medical records to the exam?
Answer: Yes

6. Should the claimant bring medical records to the exam?
Answer: My advice is no. OWCP is supposed to provide the records to the doctor. Therefore, make sure your records are uploaded to ECOMP.

7. Can the claimant insist that the doctor reads the records with the claimant?
Answer: No

8. Should the claimant have someone record the length of the exam?
Answer: I can think of only one case where I won on this argument. I was able to prove that the doctor was not in the room. He went to lunch and the nurse was in the room. OWCP ordered a new exam with a different doctor.

9. Should the claimant discuss the IME exam with his or her doctor?
Answer: Before the exam, yes. After the exam, wait until you receive a copy of the written report. Usually the report will be uploaded to ECOMP within 30 days.

10. An interesting question was asked the other day. When does the exam begin?
Answer: The exam begins when you open your door to leave your home, and ends when you close the door to your house when you return.

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