We are often asked by injured workers about things related to Independent Medical Examinations (IME). The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act allows a workers’ comp insurance company to send an injured worker to a doctor of their choosing approximately twice a year. If an injured worker does not attend an IME, the workers’ compensation insurance company can file a petition to suspend workers’ compensation benefits.
Whether the IME is just a visit to be examined by the doctor the insurance company has selected varies by the case, though this does remain the situation in the vast majority of cases. The situation gets more complicated when the IME doctor asks that some additional testing be done on the injured worker. Whether the injured worker has to agree to this additional testing depends on the test at issue and the circumstances in that case.
According to a decision by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, an IME does include ” . . . all reasonable medical procedures and tests necessary to permit a provider to determine the extent of employee’s disability.” This was in the case of Coleman v. W.C.A.B. (Indian Hosp.), decided in 2004. The Court said the workers’ compensation insurance company must prove the test is necessary, has no more than minimal risk, and is not unreasonably intrusive. In that case, the Court found the injured worker did have to have an MRI done.
Recently, however, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania found that an injured worker did not have to agree to an EEG test, which would have required the injured worker being in the hospital for 72 hours. The workers’ compensation insurance company did not show the likelihood the test would give useful information. This decision, in the case of Peters Township School District v. W.C.A.B. (Anthony), was decided April 2, 2008.