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What is a Plastic Surgery Independent Medical Examination?

Generally, an independent medical examination, or IME, refers to an unbiased medical evaluation performed by an objective, third-party physician. It is typically conducted to settle legal conflicts regarding an individual’s medical condition or injury following an accident.

An IME will determine or confirm the extent and severity of a person’s injuries, the medical treatments they need, possible disability, and when they might return to work. It will also have a huge impact on granting or denying an individual’s benefits, coverage, or compensation claim.

An independent medical examination can be requested by various entities, such as:

  • Employer
  • Insurance companies
  • Lawyer or legal counsel
  • HR manager
  • Benefit providers
  • Presiding judge or hearing officer

These entities usually request an IME in the context of a legal dispute, especially where liability is an issue.

Who performs an independent medical examination?

IMEs are performed by licensed medical doctors or healthcare professionals experts in a specific field of medicine. The kind of medical consultant that will handle an IME will depend on the individual’s injuries and the purpose of the exam.

For example, a forensic psychiatrist will be the one to conduct an IME when it comes to determining a plaintiff or defendant’s medical conditions. On the other hand, IMEs concerning scars and disfigurement due to a work-related accident may be performed by a plastic surgeon.

However, not every medical doctor is qualified to perform an IME. Besides a medical license and board certifications, a physician should also have vast knowledge and experience in their respective practice areas or medical discipline. 

What is a plastic surgery independent medical examination?

A plastic surgery Independent Medical Examination occurs when a plastic surgeon examines a patient to provide an objective medical opinion that’s relevant in a medical-legal setting. A plastic surgeon, usually a consultant, will perform the evaluation to determine or answer a question regarding the patient’s health. 

Doctors conducting an IME are not responsible for the patient’s long-term healthcare, nor are they bound to uphold doctor-patient confidentiality privilege. Importantly, the doctor must not have previously treated the patient, hence the examination being ‘independent.’

When are Plastic Surgery Independent Medical Examinations required?

An Independent Medical Examination (IME) may be requested for several reasons and by several different parties. They are most often asked by insurance carriers, attorneys, and employers but may also be requested by the patient or the patient’s attorney. 

The intended purpose of an IME is usually to answer a question, such as the cause of the condition or injury, if the patient has reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), or if previous medical treatment was reasonable and appropriate.

Typically, an independent medical examiner is consulted to provide relevant medical information or settle disagreements during the following scenarios:

  • Workers’ compensation

-workplace injuries resulting in temporary or permanent scarring and disfigurement allow the aggrieved employee to file a workers’ compensation claim. The employer may then request a plastic surgeon to perform an IME to confirm the individual’s injuries, medical treatments (e.g., if there’s a need for reconstructive surgery), or reimbursement amount.

  • Personal  injury claims

-a patient may file for a personal injury claim or lawsuit for malpractice in cosmetic surgeries or an accident that resulted in injuries that may require plastic surgery. The at-fault party’s insurance company may request an IME to double-check the compensation claim of the patient.

  • Disability claims 

-the disability claimant may require reconstructive surgery after an accident so the affected body part can become functional again. As a result, the insurance company will need to request an IME to evaluate whether to pay the benefits sought by the claimant.

  • Occupational hazard cases

-seeking an occupational or environmental hazard claim requires the patient to undergo an independent medical examination by the company or insurance carrier.

  • Liability cases

-when a victim suffered an accident or injury where an organization or entity is liable, the victim may be able to seek a compensation claim—for example, dog bites or an accident caused by someone’s property.

What happens during an independent medical examination?

A plastic surgery independent medical examination aims to give both parties (defendant and plaintiff or claimant) a clear and complete picture of the patient’s medical condition. To do so, the examiner must conduct a physical examination to assess your injuries and an interview. 

Here’s a general rundown on what might occur during a client or patient’s medical evaluation:

  • The plastic surgeon independent medical examiner will review the patient’s medical records and relevant documents regarding the injury in question.
  • During the interview, the physician may go over and ask question regarding the following: the patient’s medical history, underlying medical conditions, educational background, work history, substance use history, mental health issues, and family background.
  • Inquiry related to the injury in question, such as any permanent disability, treatments received for the injury, diagnosis of the treating doctor, etc.
  • The physician may also ask about the tentative date of one’s ability to return to work or if there are any restrictions to their ability to do their job.

The plastic surgeon will then create a report and provide their unbiased opinion on one or more of the following: the patient’s diagnosis, prognosis, cause of injury, future treatments, time off work needed, permanent or temporary impairment, and work capacity. 

Ethics and the Independent Medical Examiner

When it comes to Independent Medical Examinations, it is crucial for the medical examiner to remain ‘independent’ and provide an objective, non-biased medical opinion. For this reason, ethics are critical. 

Even though the IME is being ordered by a party with a vested interest in the answers, the doctor must remain impartial to the desires of that party and provide an opinion based on objective medical evidence. Read more about the importance of ethics.

Plastic Surgery Independent Medical Examinations and Workers’ Compensation

In Florida, employers and workers’ compensation carriers are only required to cover the cost of employees’ medical treatment if the major contributing cause is work-related. For this reason, many Independent Medical Evaluations are requested to determine liability. 

In the world of plastic surgery, a plastic surgeon may be asked if the scar on a patient is likely the result of a workplace accident (e.g., a dog bite on a postal worker). They may also be asked to estimate the cost to return the patient to their pre-accident condition – or to assess if the patient has reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).

Worker’s Compensation is a complex medical and legal environment that requires the expertise of a medical provider.

We have extensive knowledge and years of experience in effective and efficient medical treatment for injured workers.  We are here to help you provide the right care at the right time so the worker receives appropriate, timely, and cost-effective care.  Our focus is to prevent over-utilization while delivering compassionate care.  We understand the claim process when treating an injured worker by:

  1. Establishing the cause of the injury and noting related or delayed healing. 
  2. Understanding the impact early return to work has on an injured employee and our role in making it happen by identifying physical restrictions in a clear, concise manner.  Our surgeons know when or if a patient can return to their usual and customary job, or to assign modified duty restrictions on work-related activities as it correlates with the job analysis and findings upon examination.
  3. Determining maximum medical improvement (MMI) and disability ratings.
  4. Most importantly, communicating promptly with supporting documentation by sharing best practices in the continuation of care.

What Is An Independent Medical Exam?

An Independent Medical Exam is a medical evaluation performed by a third-party physician within their subspecialty.  The physician provides an unbiased opinion about an injury or condition.

Who Is An Independent Medical Examiner? 

A Board Certified physician within their subspecialty who provides a physical examination, review of medical records, and a written report.

Who Is An Expert Medical Advisor?

A Florida judge-appointed Board Certified physician within their subspecialty who provides a physical examination, review of medical records, and a written report, deposition or live testimony to assist the judge in determining the matter at hand.

Independent Medical Exam Classifications:

  • Workers Compensation:  this predominantly occurs when an employee suffers a job-related injury or sickness associated with their employment.
  • Liability injury situations:  if someone suffers an injury on a property  you own, you are often liable for some level of compensation.
  • Personal Injury:  Many personal injury cases involve traffic accidents, accidents in a home, or product defect accidents – also referred to as product liability.

What To Expect

Our Board Certified physicians offer the following Independent Medical Exam Services:

  • Medical Record Review;
  • Radiology Review;
  • Physical Examination

Read more about Dr. Zaydon in his role as a Workers’ Compensation Plastic Surgeon.

Frequently asked questions about plastic surgery IMEs

How to prepare for an IME?

At first, it’s normal to feel uneasy that you may need to divulge confidential information regarding your health to a new doctor. It may feel a bit intrusive once conducts their assessment. However, you should remember that an IME only aims to help your case and aid you in proving your injuries and medical needs to the opposing party.

Here are some tips on how you can prepare for your IME and what to do during the exam:

    • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes to provide easy access to the affected area during the physical exam. You may also bring an extra shirt for convenience.
    • Arrive ahead of your scheduled time. This gives you extra time to answer questionnaires that may be provided and will enable you to relax before the IME.
  • Bring important documents. Make sure to bring all the required medical records and documentation of your injuries. It’s better to be prepared and organize these documents ahead of time so you won’t forget anything. 
  • Be honest. Answer the questions honestly and as best as you can. You can write your medical history ahead of time so that you won’t forget anything during the interview. 
  • Take notes. You can bring a notebook and a pen to take note of the doctor’s name, the time your IME lasted, and your general impression of the whole procedure. 
  • Expect a physical examination. The examining physician must evaluate your injuries and symptoms by performing physical exams. Some examples include leg raises to check the range of motion or hand grips to measure grip strength. These physical tests may elicit discomfort, which is expected since your doctor will need to include these in their report.

Be courteous and cooperative and maintain a positive attitude as much as possible to make the best out of the experience. You should also understand that the examiner is not your treating doctor; therefore, they will remain impartial and their report confidential. 

How long does the IME take?

An IME plastic surgery time may take hours or a whole day, depending on your specific case. It’s best to prepare by canceling any schedules for the day or taking time off from work. You may also bring snacks for your breaks or a family member to accompany you. 

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Dr. Zaydon and Plastic Surgery Independent Medical Examinations

Dr. Zaydon is an experienced provider of plastic surgery Independent Medical Examinations. As a Board Certified plastic surgeon and a Plastic Surgery Expert Medical Advisor, Dr. Zaydon has the ideal qualifications to provide high-quality and objective IMEs.

How to schedule a Plastic Surgery Independent Medical Examination?

To order an Independent Medical Evaluation, please Contact Us. Besides IMEs, Dr. Zaydon also provides his services in other medico-legal disciplines concerning plastic surgery. This includes the following: 

 





The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.



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