Start out simple with independent medical examinations

Those of you wondering how to break into the medicolegal world might want to start by attending independent medical examinations (IMEs) while subcontracting for another legal nurse consultant (LNC). It's actually how I got my start, and I still enjoy doing them while working on other cases.

Typically the attorney schedules an IME because the other party, plaintiff or defense, has requested one. You will attend the examination to ensure the client is treated appropriately as the medicolegal nurse representing the attorney. This involves taking notes and presenting a report to the client's attorney.

When attending an IME, be sure to inform the client not to give out any information before consulting with the attorney. If a client is being pressured for information, it's your job to contact the attorney and let them know what's being asked of their client before proceeding with the examination. In most cases, attorneys have already submitted documents to the physician performing the IME. These include records, depositions, diagnostic studies, etc. Usually the physicians have already reviewed these records prior to the IME.

Make sure that the client and the physician know that you are only there to observe. The examining physician typically introduces him or herself to the client and states that he or she is simply a review of the records provided to render whether appropriate care was provided.

There are many types of IMEs: medical, psychiatric, dental and chiropractic, among others. You will find that orthopedic IMEs are the most common — typically following an accident of some sort and is usually auto or worker's compensation related. If you have a diverse background in all of these IME's you can be ready in a moment if an attorney or LNC contacts you to do an IME. Typically these are requested at the last minute and can occur anytime during the day.

I find that IME'S are an enjoyable way to get out of the office and visit some interesting locations while gaining valuable experience. It breaks up the typical office routine and lets you interface with what's going on out there in the field.

So get out there and get started with your first IME! My first IME went so well that I was subcontracted to do more work.

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