Independent Medical Examination (IME) form on a wooden table

The Corruption of the IME Physician

Arnett & Arnett, PC  Nov. 15, 2023

At the heart of any disability claims process, there is a key question: can the applicant truly be considered disabled? This question often leads to the need for an Independent Medical Evaluation (IME). An IME is supposed to provide an impartial assessment of a claimant's medical condition, helping to determine their eligibility for disability benefits. However, there’s a sad truth here: the system isn't always as fair and impartial as it should be. 

As disability claims attorneys based in Chandler, Arizona, we understand the concerns you may have about the potential for corruption in the IME process. At Arnett & Arnett, PC, we’re glad to shed some light on this issue, provide knowledgeable guidance, and help you move forward in any way we can. You shouldn’t have to navigate this on your own. 

What Is an Independent Medical Evaluation (IME)? 

An Independent Medical Evaluation, or IME, is an examination conducted by a medical professional who is not involved in the ongoing treatment of the claimant. The primary purpose of an IME is to offer an unbiased medical opinion regarding the claimant's condition, functioning, and the impact of their medical condition on their ability to work or carry out daily activities. This evaluation is often requested by insurance companies, employers, or government agencies to help determine eligibility for disability benefits, workers' compensation, or legal cases. 

Corruption of IME Physicians 

It's essential to acknowledge that IMEs, despite their name, are not always as independent as they ought to be. While the majority of IME physicians are ethical and impartial, there are cases where corruption and unethical behavior have crept into the process. Here are a few ways this can happen: 

  • Financial Ties to Insurance Companies: In many instances, IME physicians are compensated by the same insurance companies that hire them. This could create a conflict of interest, as the physician may feel pressured to issue reports that favor the insurance company's position. Many of the ways that corruption appears in the IME process are related to this financial element. 

  • False Reporting: Some IME physicians may deliberately misrepresent or exaggerate a claimant's condition to benefit the insurance company. This can include inaccurate descriptions of the severity of the condition, incorrect medical diagnoses, or attributing unrelated issues to the claimant's disability. 

  • Inadequate Examination: In some cases, IME physicians may rush through the examination or fail to conduct a thorough assessment of the claimant's condition. This could result in an inaccurate evaluation. 

  • Looking for Nonexistent Issues: Instead of focusing on the claimant's actual medical condition, some IME physicians may try to find issues that do not exist or are unrelated to the claimant's disability. This can be done to discredit the claimant's case and undermine their credibility. 

  • Implying Fraud: Some IME physicians may insinuate that the claimant is faking their condition or engaging in fraudulent behavior. This unjust accusation can seriously harm the claimant's case. 

Tips for Fighting Corruption 

Let's discuss some tips on how you can protect yourself from the potential corruption and unethical practices associated with IME physicians: 

  • Choose Your IME Physician Wisely: If you have the opportunity to select your IME physician, research their background and reputation. Look for independent physicians who have a history of fairness and impartiality. 

  • Seek Legal Counsel: Consult with an experienced disability claims attorney before attending your IME. A skilled attorney can provide guidance on what to expect during the evaluation, advise you on your rights, and ensure you are prepared for the examination. 

  • Document Everything: With the help of your lawyer, keep meticulous records of your interactions with the IME physician. Take notes during the examination, document any discrepancies, and note any concerns or inaccuracies in the IME report. 

  • Request a Copy of the Report: Ensure you receive a copy of the IME report. Review it carefully. If you notice any inaccuracies or misleading information, bring it to the attention of your attorney. 

  • Observe the Examination Process: If possible, have a trusted friend or family member accompany you to the IME. They can serve as a witness and provide additional support. 

  • Be Honest and Open: During the IME, be truthful about your medical condition and its impact on your personal and professional life. Transparency can go a long way in establishing the credibility of your claim. 

  • Report Misconduct: If you believe that the IME physician has engaged in unethical behavior or corruption, report it to the appropriate regulatory authorities or your attorney. This can help prevent similar occurrences in the future. 

Contact Skilled Legal Representation 

Facing an Independent Medical Evaluation can feel bewildering. However, by understanding the potential for corruption and taking proactive steps to protect your rights, you can get through this process with greater confidence. Many medical professionals in Arizona are committed to conducting fair and impartial evaluations—but some are not.  

Our team of disability claims attorneys is here to help you receive the fair treatment you deserve, no matter what brings you to our office. When you’re ready to get started, Arnett & Arnett, PC is ready to help. We proudly serve clients in Chandler and the rest of Arizona, including Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff.