What IME Doctors Look For

An independent medical examination generally begins with a patient interview, allowing the doctor to learn the history of your accident and medical condition; this is followed by the physical examination, which should not be conducted for any reason unconnected to the condition in question. Remember that the job of the IME physician is not to provide treatment, but merely to assess a variety of factors related to your injury, including:

General Appearance

During the independent medical examination, the doctor will not only observe you while performing exam procedures, but also take note of how you walk into the building or exam room, how you stand, whether you have trouble rising from a chair or climbing onto the exam table, whether you show signs of distress while sitting on the exam table, or anything else the IME doctor feels is relevant to your condition.

Signs of Deception

IME doctors will look closely for indications of deception or exaggeration of an injury; they will report anything that makes them doubtful of a patient’s reported symptoms.

Objective Signs of Injury

The doctor will typically re-assess the patient’s x-rays, MRIs, CT scans and other medical imaging studies to find measurable indications of damage or injury. IME doctors will also review whether the patient’s reported (or subjective) symptoms of pain and physical distress correspond with the objective manifestations of the injury.

Subjective Features of an Injury

Doctors performing the independent medical examination will generally conduct tests in which patients provide subjective indication of pain and sensitivity. A patient suffering back pain from a car injury, for example, may be asked to perform a range of stretching or turning movements, and indicate precisely when they experience pain or where their movement becomes limited. The IME doctor may subject patients to a different test at another point in the examination to target the same area, and assess whether the reported pain level or restriction of motion remains consistent.

Additional Factors

In the course of an independent medical examination, patients may also be asked about other ailments or injuries that have contributed to or aggravated the primary injury, including those incurred before or after the accident. Expect doctors to inquire about any aspects of lifestyle (such as drinking, smoking, diet and drug use) that may have exacerbated your injury.

If an IME physician produces a report you believe to be unfair, your workers' compensation or personal injury attorney can help, allowing you to remain focused on your recovery under your primary healthcare provider.


For a free consultation, we invite you to contact a Seattle personal injury attorney directly by phone, or request a meeting below on our client scheduling calendar.

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