Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New case law on allowing the treating physician to attend an IME or defense medical examination

The following is language from the case of Knechtel v. Workers' Comp. Appeal Bd. (Marriott Corporation), 934 A.2d 697, which is a November, 2007 decision from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The case deals with the issue of allowing a treating physician to attend an "IME" or defense medical examination. From the Court....
"Today the Court affirms by per curiam order the Commonwealth Court's construction regarding the legislature's enactment of 77 P.S. § 651(b), n1 allowing a claimant's healthcare provider to "participate" in the examination conducted by an employer's physician. In so doing, we affirm the court's holding that the legislature intended to afford the opposing expert a first-hand view of the examination process, through attendance and observation, but did not intend to permit such expert to engage in any active conduct which might disturb the examining physician. I write to express my opinion that nothing in our affirmance of the Commonwealth Court's opinion, limiting a healthcare provider to attending and observing an employer's physician's examination, should be seen as precluding such a provider from engaging in other passive, non-disruptive activity during the exam. Specifically, I believe that a workers' compensation judge retains the discretion to grant a claimant's reasonable request to take notes and/or audio or videotape the examination, so long as such activity will not interfere with an employer's physician's ability to conduct an examination."

This decision confirms what was widely understood and used by Claimant's attorneys-- that the Claimant or a representative of the Claimant (like their attorney or a paralegal from the firm) could attend a DME and video or audio tape the examination. This is a great tactic to use, especially with doctors who basically perform these types of examinations for a living and are beholden to the insurance industry for the economic survival.

No comments: