If you have experienced a work injury and have filed a workers’ compensation claim, you will likely be scheduled to be seen by a qualified medical examiner (QME). A QME (or AME which is a QME that your attorney and the insurance company have agreed upon) is a doctor that has certification from the Division of Workers’ Compensation Medical Unit (DWC). They will examine you and all your medical records to determine the extent of your work-related injury. They will decide if you have any permanent disability and what future medical care you may need. It is important that the doctor has all your medical records. If they don’t and you have a favorable report, the defense could argue that the examination was not thorough.
Here are ways to help you prepare for this examination:
- List the degree/intensity of all your injuries. (Make a physical list to bring to the examination. An examination can be stressful and if you are under stress you can easily forget important facts that the doctor should know)
- Make a list of secondary side-effects such as depression, headaches, stomachaches (caused by medication or not), anxiety, tingling, numbness, changes to your vision, loss of sleep, etc., that have occurred since the date of injury.
- After completing your lists, write how each body part has been affected since your work injury such as: Does it hurt only when you move it a certain way or does it hurt all the time? Has your range of movement been limited in any way?
- Rate all body parts/areas affected on the pain scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the most painful, 1 being the least). If the pain increases with certain movements, you will have an additional rating number for that specific body part during that movement. (Example: At rest, my wrist is a 3 on the pain scale, but when typing it increases to a 5)
- Write a detailed timeline of what’s happened between the date of your work injury up to the QME appointment. (If you have experienced weight gain due to eating more because you are depressed or because of lack of normal exercise due to your injury, include this in your timeline).
All of this will show that you are serious about recovering from your injury and that you want to get back to work as soon as you are able.
It is wise to have help from a Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorney for the process of choosing your medical examiner from the provided QME panel (list). Though these certified doctors are supposed to be unbiased, an experienced comp lawyer will help select the ones than tend to generate reports that lean toward the injured worker and avoid the doctors who tend to produce reports that favor the insurance company.
You may want to bring a family member, spouse or friend for support. Your support person could also be a witness to the examination. If the doctor does not allow this, you might ask if you could tape-record the examination or possibly take notes.
Also, anything you say at the exam can be brought up during your case and could affect the outcome. Sometimes, depending on what is said, the insurance company may use your statements to harm your case. Because of this, it’s critical to have assistance from a workers’ compensation lawyer before your examination.
Also, if you are taking pain medication, let the doctor know what type it is, the dosage, how many times a day you are taking it and the time you last took it. This will give the examiner a more thorough understanding of your current condition.
Please also read about The Day of Your QME.