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COMPREHENSIVE INDEPENDENT PSYCHATRIC EVALUATIONS
IME & FFDE
The term IME is an acronym for Independent Medical Evaluation. FFDE is an acronym for Fitness For Duty Evaluation, a specific type of IME. An IME is conducted at the request of a third party, usually an employer, insurance carrier or lawyer to obtain an independent opinion of the clinical status of an individual. It refers to any psychiatric or medical evaluation performed by a neutral practitioner who has no treatment, financial or professional relationship with the examinee or the examinee's caregiver, or client and is not involved in the examinee's care. The evaluation is independent, impartial, and without bias toward the examinee. The Independent Medical Evaluation (IME) is the primary instrument used to establish a fair unbiased determination of a situation involving medical knowledge in order to make informed administrative or legal decisions by the client. The IME is performed with the goal of providing medical or psychiatric information to be used in administrative and legal proceedings. The FFDE is specifically conducted at the request of a third party; employers, agencies and licensing boards to obtain unbiased psychiatric information concerning the ability of an employee to safely and effectively perform the essential functions of their job. The purpose of a FFDE is to protect the individual, their coworkers, and the community at large.
Although medical in nature, the IME/FFDE are not done with the intention of providing medical treatment. The sole purpose of an IME/FFDE is to provide information to the client who requested the evaluation. Despite the fact that the examination is medical in nature, the purpose of the examination is not to provide medical care to the evaluee but to provide a medical opinion about the evaluee to the client. The client then uses the medical opinion as one factor out of many to help in making administrative decisions concerning the evaluee or to be used in legal proceedings. The IME/FFDE therefore has the potential to be beneficial or deleterious to the evaluee's best interests. In an IME/FFDE the traditional doctor/patient relationship is not established. By agreeing to the evaluation, the examinee has consented to participate in the process and waived the confidentiality, which is traditionally present in a doctor/patient relationship. Furthermore, the examinee acknowledges no medical or psychiatric treatment will be offered.
An IME is typically requested by attorneys, insurance companies and employers who require professional independent evaluations to help in the process of making administrative decisions concerning the evaluee, i.e. determining disability status, or determining if psychiatric damage can be established or refuted in personal injury cases, or the appropriateness and need for psychiatric treatment. A FFDE is specifically conducted at the request of a third party, employers, agencies and licensing boards. An IME/FFDE can be useful in addressing many issues including diagnosis, causation, effects of preexisting conditions, the necessity of treatment, end of healing period, permanence of injury, the ability of an employee to safely and effectively perform the essential functions of their job, job restrictions, and the delineation of accommodations that may be required.
Insurance companies and Employee Assistance Programs must periodically perform an IME in disability cases to corroborate or refute disability status and insure benefit recipients are under the care of a physician and are being appropriately treated. Without the FFDE process, it would be impossible for an employer to determine fitness for duty.