By Kevin L. Connors, Esquire

            Many of you have expressed some confusion, regret, and/or a pain associated with the selection of independent medical examiners, particularly in the context of workers’ compensation cases.

            No question, this is a difficult task in workers’ compensation cases, as it could well become a claim-defining examination, since under Section 304 of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, Independent Medical Examinations (IME) can only be requested on an every six (6) months basis, triggering brow-furrowing and head-scratching, as to when do I get the IME.

            No less true, the issue for one to secure an IME often comes into question when you are either administering a “medical only” claim, which sometimes drift into the “I am disabled” claim, resulting in a claim for indemnity compensation benefits, as well as claims that are administered a Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable, whether for both indemnity and medical compensation benefits and/or simply for “medical only” compensation benefits.

            As all of us know, the Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable (NTCP) permits the administration of a workers’ compensation claim for the first ninety (90) from issuance of the NTCP, to allow continuing investigation into the workers’ compensation claim, including terms of compensability, disability, injury description, etc., there may be many facets that play into whether a claim is accepted, denied, or administered under an NTCP, with the IME being one resource available to Employers and Insurance Carriers, as well as administrators, as the NTCP is approaching its end point, being that ninety (90) days from issuance, after which, absent the issuance of a Notice of Compensation Denial, as well as the issuance of Notice of Stopping Temporary Compensation, the NTCP becomes the claim-admitting document under which the Employer, Insurer and/or Administrator, becomes liable for the continuing payment of workers’ compensation benefits, being indemnity and medical, and/or only medical.

            Yes, it is a time-sensitive feature in workers’ compensation claims, with an accepted claim technically becoming a workers’ compensation claim with extensive exposure, in the absence of one of the following events occurring post-acceptance, i.e., the conversion of the NTCP into a Notice of Compensation Payable, to include the following possible claim occurrences:

  • The Claimant dies, and compensation benefits terminate by operation of both death and loss;
  • The Claimant voluntarily returns to work in their pre-injury capacities, and there is no continuing wage loss post-return to work, such that the Claimant’s compensation benefits are suspended;
  • The Claimant returns to work in a modified-duty capacity, with some reduction in return-to-work wages, such that the Claimant’s compensation benefits are modified, and temporary partial disability benefits are paid, subject to the 500 week limitation;
  • The Claimant executes a Supplemental Agreement, perfecting either a termination, suspension, or modification of the Claimant’s workers’ compensation benefits;
  • The Claimant signs a Final Receipt (almost never used), under which the Claimant agrees that all compensation benefits have been paid;
  • The Claimant is deported by virtue of not being able to prove legal immigration status;
  • The claim is settled under a Compromise and Release Agreement, perfecting some type of compromise of the indemnity and medical compensation benefits liability associated with the claim; and,
  • The Claimant’s compensation benefits are terminated, modified, or suspended by order of a workers’ compensation judge, with the employer/insurer carrying the burden of proving the entitlement to a change in the Claimant’s benefit entitlement status.

            So, back to IMEs.

            To address client and contact confusion over who to choose for a respective IME, with it being necessary to differentiate IMEs based upon medical specialties, we have prepared a list of our preferred IME physicians to include the following:

Field Body Parts Doctor Location
General Surgery   General Surgery Sean Harbison, M.D. Penn Medicine Philadelphia
Neurologic   Bryan DeSouza, M.D. Bala Cynwyd
Neurologic   Lee Harris, M.D. Abington Neurological Associates Willow Grove Abington
Neurologic   Ilya Bragin, M.D. St. Luke’s Neurology Associates Allentown Plains Reading
Neurosurgeon   Gene Salkind, M.D. Holy Redeemer Hospital Huntingdon Valley
Orthopedic General Ira C. Sachs, D.O. Rothman Institute Wynnewood
Orthopedic General Robert Grob, M.D. Allentown Lehighton Palmerton Plains Reading
Orthopedic Hand; wrist William Kirkpatrick, M.D. Rothman Institute Malvern
Orthopedic Hand; wrist Jack Abboudi, M.D. Rothman Institute Malvern
Orthopedic Hand; wrist Andrew Sattel, M.D. Hand Surgery & Rehabilitation Center Bala Cynwyd
Orthopedic Hand; wrist Lawrence Weiss, M.D. OAA Orthopedic Specialists Allentown
Orthopedic   Hand; wrist; elbow; arm Jay S. Talsania, M.D. OAA Orthopedic Specialists Allentown
Orthopedic Hip; knee Dennis P. McHugh, D.O. The Center for Advanced Orthopedics Norriton
Orthopedic Hip; knee Kevin Anbari, M.D. OAA Orthopedic Specialists Allentown Plains
Orthopedic Shoulder; elbow; trauma David L. Glaser, M.D. Penn Medicine Radnor
Valley Forge Philadelphia
Orthopedic Shoulder; elbow Joseph Abboud, M.D. Rothman Institute King of Prussia Philadelphia
Orthopedic Foot; ankle Barry A. Ruht, M.D. Barry A. Ruht, M.D., FACS, PC Allentown
Orthopedic Spine John A. Handal, M.D. Einstein Orthopedic Specialists Bala Cynwyd
Orthopedic Spine Jeffrey McConnell, M.D. LVPG Advanced Spine Center Allentown Plains
Pain Management Record review only Nathan (Natalio) Schwartz, M.D.   Bala Cynwyd
Psychiatric   Gladys Fenichel, M.D. Ardmore
Psychiatric   Brian Bora, M.D. Bala Cynwyd
Radiology Diagnostic study review only Michael L. Brooks, M.D. Dept. of Radiology Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital   Thornton
Vascular     Patrick Pellecchia, M.D. Holy Redeemer Jenkintown

            All of the physicians listed above, are physicians that we have utilized in defense of workers’ compensation, and most of the above-listed physicians have been physicians which have testified on behalf of our clients in litigated workers’ compensation cases, with our having respect for every physician listed above, in terms of their specialty, the thoroughness of their Independent Medical Examination function, to include the narrative medical reports that these physicians draft post-IME, as well as their preparation for any trial depositions that might become necessary in the course of a workers’ compensation claim being litigated, and their tenacity defending their respective opinions, both findings and conclusions, in the course of being subjected to cross-examination by counsel representing Claimants, with the focus of cross-examination often turning on the IME physician indicating that they only had one opportunity to examine the Claimant, particularly in the context of a Claim Petition being defended, and/or how could the IME physician possibly conclude that the injured employee has fully recovered from a work injury, when the IME physician has only examined the Claimant on one occasion, some doctors conducting the examination and in reliance upon the history elicited from the Claimant, and any medical records that we might be able to provide to the IME physician in preparation for their IMEs.

            Obviously, we encourage you to contact us with any question that you might have with regard to any particular physician listed above, as well as any questions that you might have regarding specific medical specialties, the sometimes incongruous nature of workers’ compensation claims, as well the unreasonable evaluation sometimes placed on non-catastrophic injuries by counsel representing workers’ compensation Claimants.

ConnorsO’Dell LLC

            Trust us, we just get it!  It is trust well spent!

            We defend Employers, Self-Insureds, Insurance Carriers, and Third Party Administrators in Workers’ Compensation matters throughout Pennsylvania.  We have over 100 years of cumulative experience defending our clients against compensation-related liabilities, with no attorney in our firm having less than ten (10) years of specialized experience, empowering our Workers’ Compensation practice group attorneys to be more than mere claim denials, enabling us to create the factual and legal leverage to expeditiously resolve claims, in the course of limiting/reducing/extinguishing our clients’ liabilities under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.

            Every member of our Workers’ Compensation practice group is AV rated.  Our partnership with the NWCDN magnifies the lens for which our professional expertise imperiously demands that we always be dynamic and exacting advocates for our clients, navigating the frustrating and form-intensive minefield pervasive throughout Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation practice and procedure.