SHB 1068 allows injured workers to record independent medical exams (IME), but it neither protects the integrity and privacy of the recordings nor does it require two-party consent. WR opposes this bill. L&I predicts scheduling delays may arise if a provider does not consent to audio or video recording, and even more problematic amongst mental health providers. Combined with the prediction of increases in long-term disability that hurts workers and increases claim costs, this is a lose-lose proposal.
In the 2020 Legislative Work Group on IME Report, audio/video recording was one of the nine strategies that were not recommended. The Legislature needs to honor the bi-partisan workgroup’s recommendations, and this proposal contradicts their investment in the effort.
This bill contains several significant flaws relating to the previously stated concerns:
- It gives the worker the right to record only with little notice to the IME provider.
- It provides no structure or indication of what would happen with that video after the exam. This allows the doctor (and possibly the worker) to misuse the video.
- Most IME examiners are repulsed by granting recording rights to workers only. Many have indicated the intent to quit offering these exams.
- Workers who have a mental health condition will experience a disproportionately negative impact. Adding audio or video recording into the examination process could render these exams invalid, hindering the workers’ future options for evaluation and treatment.
Proponents of SHB 1068 claim that this newly established right will help eliminate subpar examiners. However, a process to challenge the exam, the examiner, or any other concerns of workers is already in place. The Senate should carefully weigh the importance of protecting and respecting the privileged, confidential relationships between health providers and patients.
At a minimum, statutory language must in put in place regarding the use of the recordings, who can record, and how recordings must only be only utilized under restricted circumstances, such as appeal proceedings.
IMEs are crucial to workers’ recovery because they provide a valuable second opinion in the review of treatment, help identify misdiagnoses, and are often the first-time injured workers see an MD in person. IMEs often result in a recommendation of continued treatment which benefits the worker and can end stalemates that keep the worker from establishing ongoing pension resolutions.
WR will continue to ensure the integrity of the workers’ compensation insurance system.