It depends. Some IME doctors have better reputations than others. Also, there are so many facts to a case, it is difficult to generalize. Generally speaking, if the IME doctor admits basic, obvious facts, has strong credentials, does a thorough exam, and reviews all of the medical records available to him or her, then there is a stronger chance that the Judge will take the opinions more seriously.
One common theory that many IME doctors rely upon is that a work injury has ceased, leaving the injured Pennsylvania worker with symptoms or disability related to an underlying degenerative disease or “arthritis”. However, one must use their common sense. If the injured worker is now having symptoms only related to arthritis, and if we take into account the fact that arthritis doesn’t happen overnight, but over a long period of time, then why wasn’t the injured worker experiencing these symptoms PRIOR to the work injury?
As such, it is very important to examine the pre work injury medical history and records of the injured worker. When the IME doctor in Pennsylvania hangs their proverbial hat on the “arthritis” theory, an experienced PA Work Comp Lawyer needs to use common sense, and a time line, to address the merits of such an opinion.
Luckily, most Judges are very wise and realize the weakness of such an argument. (assuming there is no treatment/symptoms leading up to the work injury that are consistent with arthritis).
Many of my clients seem baffled that the IME- Independent Medical Exam, takes only 5 minutes in terms of the physical examination. However, it doesn’t take a doctor very long sometimes to assess someone’s condition. In other cases, however, a more rigorous exam is warranted- such as a case involving Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy where there are many factors to review.
Injured workers in Pennsylvania must remember that an IME doctor’s opinion is just that- it’s an opinion. It’s not a fact. Medicine is not an exact science and doctors will disagree depending on who pays them, their prejudices, their training, etc. In most cases, the Judges will find the treating doctor more credible than the hired IME doctor. But every case is unique and turns on its own facts.
For more info about IMEs in Pennsylvania, call experienced Pennsylvania Work Comp Attorney, Michael W. Cardamone 7 days a week, directly at 215-206-9068