Abstract

The AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides), Sixth Edition, states that an independent medical evaluation (IME) usually is a “one-time evaluation performed by an independent medical examiner who is not treating the patient or claimant, to answer questions posed by the party requesting the IME.” Evaluators must adhere to best practice standards and must know that these standards may change over time and must meet the needs of the relevant jurisdiction. IMEs take place in several arenas, including automobile casualty, workers’ compensation, personal injury, medical malpractice, and long-term disability and differ from traditional clinical evaluations. The evaluating physician must be independent and has no (or only a limited) physician–patient relationship. The qualifications required of an IME examiner vary by arena, jurisdiction, and issues. Medical evaluators should be board certified and can obtain a special credential from, eg, the American Board of Independent Medical Examiners or the International Association of Independent Medical Evaluators. In addition, evaluators should have demonstrated abilities in report writing and court testimony, and a section of this article provides a general outline of the topics that should be covered in a thorough report. Quality IME reports are the result of thoughtful, thorough evaluations performed by physicians who have knowledge, skills, and experience in both clinical medicine and the assessment of medicolegal issues.

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