If you’re weighing whether an Independent Medical Examination is the right way to resolve your lingering return to work issue, you’ll want to understand how the process works.
A return to work can be costly and involve some tricky questions. Take some time to get familiar with what a good Independent Medical Examination looks like. Ask your IME service provider these questions.
1: Is the Examiner a Relevant Expert?
If you’re getting an Independent Medical Examination to help an employee return to work, you want to make sure you’re getting the best evaluation. After all, the employee has likely already got an evaluation from their GP, and if you’re at this stage, you’re looking for something more authoritative — for one reason or another.
So, you’ll want to know that the independent medical expert set to evaluate the injury or illness has some compelling expertise worthy of your trust. Many return to work issues resolve smoothly — but if the worst does happen, you may need to rely on your Independent Medical Examination in court. Don’t accept anything but pointed, relevant expertise.
2: What Does the Physical Examination Involve?
An independent medical examination that doesn’t thoroughly examine the injury or illness in question is hardly an examination at all. Yet there are plenty of complaints out there — some of which hit the media — about an IME examiner who barely scratched the surface.
Yes, those undergoing these examinations have a lot on the line and often an obvious incentive to have their concerns validated — just as employers have a clear preferential wish to determine that the injury is not so bad as it seems or the complaints are evidence-based.
When both sides have an interest in the outcome, it’s critical that the expert performing the examination does an in-depth, thorough, and responsible physical examination, taking into account the existing documentation and the employee’s medical history. Satisfy yourself that the examiner is truly committed to producing an independent and reliable report.
3: How Long Will the Report Take?
You’re looking for an Independent Medical Examination for a relatively fast turnaround on your problem. After all, your employee may have been off work for months already, and you need to resolve this issue quickly.
Ask about the timeline and ensure that it works for you. If you already suspect the issue may be resolved within a month or two, waiting a few weeks for a report may not be as useful at all. The sooner you request an FCE the sooner you’ll get an actionable report. for than if you’re looking at half a year or more of absenteeism.
Western Medical Assessments: Expeditious Clarity
We’ve handled tens of thousands of Independent Medical Examinations and built a powerful network of medical experts over decades. We facilitate reports trusted by major Canadian employers and bring clarity to difficult injury- and illness-related employment issues.
We’ve shared these three questions because we consider them vital in the Independent Medical Examination process. Each of them is carefully considered every time we help an employer toward safe and healthy resolutions.
If you’re facing the challenge of helping an employee back to work as soon as healthily and safely as possible, our Medical Director Dr. Roger Hodkinson is always available for a quick no-obligation chat at 780.433.1191.
We also have an eBook just for employers: The Employer’s Return to Work Handbook. It takes a deep look at many of the issues surrounding injury and employment and can get you on the right track toward more productive, efficient, and safe workplaces.