So, you’ve just seen the doctor for your — now what? If you’re wondering what happens after an Independent Medical Examination, you’re in the right place.
This article is part of our Ultimate Guide to Long-term Disability Benefits.
Pssssst. I’m going to start this next section with a pop quiz, so if you haven’t done the required reading, you can check it out here:
Is it really over?
Yup — here’s that pop quiz I warned you about.
When does the Independent Medical Examination end? If you’ve read the previous articles in this series, you might know what I’m about to say.
You should run with the assumption that the IME doesn’t end until you arrive safely back at your home. For one, the doctor and their staff will likely watch and make notes of how you seem when you leave the exam room. They will watch how you walk out.
If you happen to be under surveillance by the insurance company, there’s a chance that they will be watching to see what you do afterwards, as well. They might watch how you walk from the office to the car. They may wait at your home to see how you enter your front door.
You shouldn’t do anything that would contradict how you were acting during the appointment. You probably won’t want to exert yourself too much, anyway. And yes, this probably means you shouldn’t make plans to meet someone for a late lunch after your IME.
In fact, there’s only one thing you should be doing: making some notes of your own.
Making notes after an IME
Once you leave the doctor’s office, you will want to make your own set of notes. Do this once you get to your car, or when you arrive home. The sooner you write the notes, the better. If you write them sooner, you will remember things more clearly.
You can do this in the form of written notes, or you can take an audio or video recording. If you choose to take physical notes, take a picture of them with your phone afterwards so you have a timestamp that proves when that note was made.
You should make very detailed notes that summarize everything you remember. Here are some things you might want to make note of:
If you’re already working with a lawyer, include these notes in a communication to your lawyer. That way, your notes don’t have to be disclosed; they are protected because of lawyer-client confidentiality. Otherwise, if you take these notes, they will have to be disclosed if you end up in a lawsuit.
- What time did you arrive? What time did you leave?
- How long were you in the waiting room? How long was the examination itself?
- Did you have to do paperwork? What was the nature of the paperwork? How long did it take?
- Were there other people in the waiting room?
- How did it go? What were your general impressions?
- Make note of the questions they asked you
- Also make note of questions they avoided asking
- Summarize any thoughts the doctor shared with you
- What impression you got of the doctor and their attitude
- Anything else that was remarkable, unusual, etc.
We recommend making notes afterwards instead of secretly recording the appointment. Recording can hurt your credibility because it can appear underhanded. Maybe you do the recording on the off chance that the doctor wrongs you. If that happens, you have proof. You’re protecting yourself… right?
But do you really have to protect yourself?
The concern is that perhaps the doctor will say something that they don’t write in the report. You want to catch them contradicting themselves to hurt their credibility.
Now consider the other scenario: the doctor doesn’t say anything outrageous, and now you look sleazy for secretly recording it. The whole idea is that you go into the IME to show that you’re honest and straightforward. The act of hiding a recording can damage that perception of you. And you can’t just hide it forever. If you end up going to a lawsuit, you have to disclose that you did this recording.
Ultimately, it’s rare that you will capture the doctor saying something on the recording that doesn’t match up with the notes. We would say that hurting your credibility is more of a problem than the off-chance that the doctor will say something in person that they don’t write in the report. And even if the doctor does this, it probably wouldn’t be the sole deciding factor.
How do you ‘pass’ an IME?
You can’t really control what the doctor writes. You can only control your mindset and how you present yourself during the examination.
A successful outcome for after an independent medical examination would be that you come out of it with your credibility bolstered. You want the doctor to think you’re a trustworthy and honest person, and hopefully they indicate this in their report.
You will be able to see the report eventually, but you can’t demand it from the doctor afterwards. They do not have to give it to you or even send it to your primary doctor. The doctor performing the IME is just a third-party medical opinion for your insurance company — they don’t owe you anything. The report will go back to your insurance company, and it’s up to them whether they disclose it to you and your physician.
Once the IME is all over with, you’ll just have to wait to see what it says. The insurance company will make a choice after reviewing their report — to continue paying your benefits, or to cut you off.
All you can do at this point is relax and trust that you’ve done your best.