A recent New York Times article chronicles how doctors’ reports regarding injuries are not always free of bias. The examinations, often referred to by lawyers as “Independent Medical Examinations” or “IMEs” are anything but “independent.” The clear inference one takes from the article is: the doctor’s report is often slanted to further the interests of the entity paying for the report. Many such reports are requested by insurance companies in order to evaluate a claim. However, as the doctor who was heavily quoted in the article states, “If you did a pure report, you’d be out on your ears and the insurers wouldn’t pay for it. You have to give them what they want, or you’re in Florida. That’s the game, baby.” Really? Where is this doctor practicing and why does he still have a license to practice medicine?
Wow. What a farce. As an Atlanta personal injury lawyer who regularly relies on medical reports and medical narratives to document the injuries that my clients have suffered as a result of car wrecks, slip and falls on commercial premises, medical malpractice, dental malpractice, dog attacks and many other types of lawsuits, I find it reprehensible that any doctor would be less than truthful in his or her report. Doctors, after all, are professionals who are sworn to uphold the Hippocratic oath. First mandate: do no harm. Obviously, lying on a medical report to sway a jury or tip a case in the wrong direction is wrong and actionable agains the doctor on its own.
Unfortunately, for many seriously injured people in Atlanta and other parts of Georgia, this is no game. It is a sad reality that must be protected against at all costs. If you are seriously injured in a automobile accident, trucking accident, or on the job, if your injuries are serious enough to file a lawsuit, the insurance companies will probably ask for an “IME.” Then, most insurance companies insist that the IME be conducted by the doctor of their choice. Many times, the insurance company will simply send the medical records to one of the doctors on their payroll, who will review hundreds of cases every year for the insurance company. Not surprisingly, most, if not all, of the IME’s by these doctors conclude that the injured party is either (1) not injured; or (2) injured, but the injury was not caused by the negligent act upon which the lawsuit was filed. Because of this, we almost never voluntarily submit to such an IME.
In our practice, we take precautions to ensure that our personal injury clients’ examinations are fair and accurate. This is a normal process when dealing with any claim that is based on a serious injury. If we are doing are jobs as lawyers correctly, there is no need to seek out a doctor who will lie on a medical report because we carefully screen all of our case before taking them and we do not take cases unless the client is seriously injury due to the negligence of someone else. Therefore, the medical narratives and reports on our clients truly and accurately reflect the clients’ injuries, how the injuries occurred, the treatment that has taken place by the doctor to date, what future treatment is anticipate and the doctor’s opinion on the prognosis of the client. There are many fine doctors out there who will provide a truly independent examination for you. You should not be examined by an insurance companies’ “hired gun.”
To read the complete article go to http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/01/nyregion/01comp.html?_r=1