Independent Medical Examinations in the Return to Work Process

May 8, 2018

Help an employee return to work with an independent medical examinationIf you’re an employer with an employee absent due to a medical issue, you may be frustrated trying to understand when they’ll be back, up to speed, and comfortable in their role.

While everyone wants the employee to make a good, full, healthy recovery, you do still have to run the business in the meantime, and the uncertainty raises questions.

How long will they be gone? Is it worth hiring and training temporary staff? Will they be able to return to their full duties? Will they need specific accommodations when they return? Can you reasonably afford them?

That’s where an Independent Medical Examination (IME) comes in. An unbiased third party can provide the clarity that helps you through this difficult period.

The benefits of an IME in the return to work process

When somebody is away from work due to an injury or illness, an employer doesn’t necessarily need to or have the right to know exactly what the issue is, but they do have a right to know what the prognosis for recovery is in order to effectively compensate for the employee’s absence and ensure that when they are able to return to work, they’re able to do so safely.

An Independent Medical Examination can get you these facts if you’re not already privy to them. You are also able to access a wide network of specialists who might be better equipped to examine the issue over a generalist your employee might be using, giving an extra layer of clarity that otherwise may be lacking.

When you can request an employee submit to an IME

The full legal question of whether you can compel an employee to subject to an IME will be different with every case. But if you feel you’re not getting a reliable or sufficient account of the facts to which you’re entitled — or if something seems odd, vague, or just not quite right about the employee’s doctor’s medical notes, you may have a legitimate case to demand an IME.

You may also want to consider one if the information you have suddenly changes, such as being told a person is completely unfit to work, and then unexpectedly being given a proposed schedule of availability and conditions, especially when these conditions would cause you undue pain to accommodate, or if the job cannot reasonably be done under them in the available time. Or an IME might be helpful if the prognosis suddenly changes from an estimated full return in a number of months to being unable to work for a now indefinite amount of time.

How to begin the Independent Medical Examination Process

Three things to keep in mind in an independent medical examination

The best way to ensure you’re getting the full range of benefits afforded by an IME is to work with an organisation with access to a full range of medical expertise so that you know you’re getting the most relevant specialist. Given the complicated legal and medical issues in question, you’ll also want to seek out experienced help, to better guide you through the process. Finally, to help ensure an unbiased perspective, the organisation should not offer treatment on top of the examination, as this may constitute a conflict of interest.

Ideally, the IME can help a swift return to work, but unfortunately, IME or no, any return to work situation may turn into a legal battle. If this happens, you’ll want the security of a relevant, experienced, truly independent medical authority on your side.

Western Medical Assessments prides itself on its long history of high quality results and independence, To find out more about our IME process, drop us a line and let’s get started.

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