The Impartial Physician Examination

Massachusetts Workplace Injury Attorneys

At Kantrovitz & Associates, we are Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers offering personalized service to all of our clients. For over 20 years, we have advocated for financial compensation for injured workers throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. From navigating among impartial physician examinations to guiding you through a hearing, the Boston based attorneys at Kantrovitz & Associates are focused on your well-being.

Impartial Physician Examination (IPE)

The Massachusetts Legislature enacted the Impartial Physician Program in 1991 to assemble a “roster” of doctors qualified to examine workers and evaluate their workers’ compensation claims. Past reports filed with the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) tended to “favor” the hiring party. Because medical reports are essential evidence in obtaining relief, biased opinions often led to further litigation and dispute. Now, the DIA requires reports by “impartial” physicians be given prima facie evidentiary weight by the judge. Under Massachusetts General Laws chapter 152, section 11A, only impartial physicians on the DIA roster can examine injured workers in medical condition disputes.

Impartial vs. Independent/Insurance Medical Exam (IME)

Unless their employer has a “preferred provider” responsible for the initial consultation, injured workers are entitled to treatment by physicians of their choice. The IME is paid for by the insurance company when there is a medical dispute. IPEs are paid for by the party appealing a judge’s conference order regarding workers’ compensation. Both IMEs and IPEs are performed when there is a dispute. This process may involve:

  • Osteopaths
  • Internal medicine
  • Orthopedic surgeons
  • Certified chiropractors
  • Occupational therapists
  • Neurosurgeons, neurologists
  • Expert testimony, depositions
  • Appointment by presiding judge
  • Review of worker’s medical records
  • Preparation of supplemental reports

The DIA draws a sharp distinction between IMEs and IPEs, often retaining impartial doctors to serve as the judge’s medical expert. Impartial physicians that conduct IMEs must disclose their affiliations and perform IPEs in a different place. Impartial physicians are also prohibited from referring workers to other doctors or specialists after the examination.

Importance of IPE

The opinion rendered after an IPE is the most important evidence in hearings on disputed workers’ compensation claims. Employers and insurers can deny a claim based on failure to show a work-related injury, and judges rely upon IPEs on appeal. Administrative Judges are required to adopt the medical opinion stated in the report to determine the outcome, unless situations arise where, for example, they find the report “inadequate,” in which case additional evidence may be considered. In most cases, IPE findings are sufficient.

Process and Fees

Judges, after the filing of a Conference Order appeal, are required to appoint an impartial physician. A senior judge directs an “impartial unit” of the DIA to choose one. Fees for IPEs may include:

  • $650 for examination
  • $200 for supplemental report
  • Requested increased fee if case complex
  • $150 cancellation or missed appointment fee
  • $300 to review medical records without exam
  • $750 for two-hour deposition, $150 per hour after

Impartial physicians must conduct a full physical examination of the injured worker, examine prior medical records, answer any potential hypothetical questions, and review stipulations of fact to submit a written report.

Handling IPEs

If you have a medical issue requiring an impartial physician examination, the Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys at Kantrovitz & Associates can help. Resolving medical disputes is complex, and requires seasoned lawyers to represent your interests in depositions and at administrative hearings. For over 20 years, Kantrovitz & Associates has played a critical role in proving job-related injury for workers in Boston, Norfolk, Essex, Middlesex, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Merrimack counties, among others. Call (800) 367-0871 for a free consultation or contact us online.