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Note: The Oregonian edited the letter sent them. Three sentences were removed and a couple words changed. This is standard practice. We have no problem with the edits.

Bias against disabled seen

Letter to the Editor
Published August 14, 2008
The Oregonian

LETTER SENT

Two examiners who conduct medical evaluations for Social Security Disability have criticized The Oregonian’s thorough and top-notch investigative series detailing program deficiencies. They implied that many they see are malingerers whose injuries are not real or are greatly exaggerated.

This is the routine position of examiners, many of whom also perform exams in Oregon Workers’ Compensation cases. Many of these examiners make their sole living providing opinions. They are paid by the very entities that benefit from a negative evaluation. We have documented examples where examiners were paid over $5,000 for one opinion. The exams themselves are 20-60 minutes long. The State of New York found medical evaluations being conducted in subway stations and condemned buildings. One often-used examiner faked a medical degree.

The State of Oregon conducted a study and survey on Independent Medical Examinations, widely known as IMEs, in 2004. The 271-page report is nothing short of a wholesale indictment of the exams and those who conduct them. It’s linked to from www.injuredworker.org.

An examiner – one with a conscience - described them best. He said, “Explain purpose of IME. Explain that it is being held so the insurer can deny the claim.”

LETTER PUBLISHED

Two examiners who conduct medical evaluations for Social Security Disability have criticized The Oregonian's thorough and top-notch investigative series detailing program deficiencies (Aug. 3-4). They implied that many they see are malingerers whose injuries are not real or are greatly exaggerated.

This is the routine position of examiners, many of whom also perform exams in Oregon workers' compensation cases. Many of these examiners make their sole living providing opinions. They are paid by the very entities that benefit from negative evaluations.

We have documented examples in which examiners were paid more than $5,000 for one opinion. The exams themselves are 20 to 60 minutes long.

The state of Oregon conducted a study and survey on Independent Medical Examinations, widely known as IMEs, in 2004. The 271-page report is nothing short of a wholesale indictment of the exams and those who conduct them. It's linked to from www.injuredworker.org.

An examiner -- one with a conscience -- described the exams best in a survey. He said, "Explain (that) it is being held so the insurer can deny the claim."

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MORE INFO

Sampling of Examiner Statements in State IME Study

Sampling of All State IME Study Participant Statements

The Complete State IME Study - 2.25MB (The examiner quote is on page 190 as numbered on bottom-right of each page or page 193 using Acrobat numbering)

Independent Medical Examiner Practices for Ten Years without a Medical Degree
His response to hearing that one of his workers' compensation patients had jumped out of a top window of Erie County Medical Center was to laugh and say, "Well his problems are over."

More About IMEs (left column on home page)

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"Current system is a biased joke. I've had an adjuster tell me if I didn't say such and such they'd just send the patient for IME with Dr. "X" because he's say it. A certain number of doctors make a significant amount of there income from IMEs. They say what the insurer wants as they get more IMEs and they make more money. This current system is totally flawed."

— An examiner statement in state study. It was too long for letter to the editor.


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