In the last six months DCS, Inc. has been made aware by Unum’s insureds and claimants of improper situations relating to IME neuropsychological evaluations. I refer readers to my prior post concerning the “IME Bill of Rights” previously posted in the IME Info category of Lindanee’s Blog.
Recently, an insured reported to me she was required by Unum to submit to a neuropsychological evaluation which when she arrived appeared to be unusual from the beginning, if not very strange.
The office was located in what appeared to be a sleazy part of town. When she and her husband entered the building they could easily see the office was a small 4 x 6 dusty area, with no computer, and appeared to be a temporary office set-up at best. When the claimant asked the one receptionist for a brochure to view the doctor’s services she was informed there wasn’t any. Clearly, there was no ongoing medical practice at this location.
The evaluator immediately argued with the claimant about audio recording the interview portion of the test. However, what drew the claimant’s attention to the evaluator was the fact that she was nervous, and physically shaking.
The doctor explained she had only done three IMEs in the past and “hated insurance companies.” She also indicted to the claimant and her husband that the primary treating physician had recommended her to Unum to do the IME. (After the interview the claimant’s husband left the office and made a phone call to his wife’s treating physician who profoundly said he didn’t even know who she was.)
The evaluator also spent several minutes stating how the previous IME was completely erroneous since it was done improperly, was misinterpreted etc. The claimant recognized immediately that this was an attempt on the evaluator’s part to place credibility on HER report by criticizing the one before it. (By this time, Unum’s IME evaluator had lost all credibility as someone qualified to administer a neuropsychological evaluation.)
Unum’s evaluator did not stay with the claimant while she was completing the tests, but frequently left the room, returning smelling like tobacco. At one point the wrong test answer sheet was given to the claimant who ran out of places to mark her answers. The evaluator grabbed the sheet provided another and said, “I’ll take care of it.”
There was only one small testing table in the room which appeared to belong to a child or young adult. No tests were administered on a computer, as the claimant had remembered from her previous evaluation. Finally, she was told by the evaluator, who chose to administer the 522 question Personality Profile at the end of the test, that she could give her answers to the receptionist and then leave.
Claimants and insureds should be aware that there was nothing about the administration of this neuropsychological evaluation that was professional, valid and in keeping with any kind of IME standards published by the American Psychological Association. Please see below.
The office location was obviously set-up temporarily as an IME mill to provide cheap, low-cost neuropsyche tests to Unum’s insureds.
- Why was the evaluator so nervous and physically shaking.? She described herself to the claimant as a “forensic neuropsychologist.” This profession interviews and conducts IMEs on a regular basis. Why did she say she had only conducted three IMEs when her self-proclaimed profession is conducting IMEs routinely?
- Discussion and critical review by the IME evaluator of any medical tests performed by other evaluators is unprofessional conduct during an IME. According to Unum’s evaluator the neuropsyche administered by the treating physician’s office was “bungled” from beginning to end. (This is consistent with Unum’s agenda of discrediting any reports or documentation from treating physicians.)
- Most evaluators stay with insureds during the testing portion of the test, if for no other reason than to attest to the validity of the test taking as a whole, and to answer any concerns or questions insureds might have during the test. This evaluator left and apparently had no interest to supervise anything.
- No tests were given on the computer which suggests the tests given were not state-of-the-art. It is my understanding the MMIP-II is no longer state of the art testing and was never designed to pinpoint malingering anyway. We don’t know yet if the MMPI-II was given, but my guess is that an old version was probably administered.
- This evaluator was dishonest and deliberately lied to the claimant in an attempt to make herself more credible. At least a month before the IME, the treating physician commented he had no idea who Unum’s IME physician was which he thought strange since most physicians knew of each other in the locality. (Now we know the reason why Unum’s evaluator was so against audio recording the interview portion of the exam.)
It is unclear what is going on with Unum these days with respect to IMEs. The evaluations are cheap, shoddy, and administered in questionable locations which are often unclean and obviously temporary set-ups resembling IME location mills.
Unum is denying claimants and insureds the right to audio record or attend IMEs with witnesses. If claimants are allowed to record at all they are asked to pay for, and provide Unum with copies. Unum is a multi-million dollar corporation reporting to regulators that it “isn’t doing anything wrong.” The company also has a gaggle of attorneys who defend such practices.
Our recommendations to Unum insureds and clients is that they should immediately prepare a narrative of events describing the location, and proceedings of any Unum IME and request that it be placed in the file. In this situation, the claimant will have her first evaluator determine whether Unum’s neuropsychological examination is valid at all.
Any time claimants are made to feel uncomfortable, or suspect Unum’s IMEs are dishonestly conducted may leave and request that the IME be rescheduled with a proper evaluator in a more professional and permanent setting.
Callers tell us they have been asked to attend Unum IMEs in dirty offices where the paper on treating benches hasn’t been changed, or in “red-light districts.” Claimants who have been provided transportation by Unum describe dirty, smelly, yellow cabs with drivers who don’t know where they are going. One chauffeur dropped off a Unum claimant in the middle of Philadelphia and left him there waiting after dark for hours for the return trip.
Interestingly, I don’t hear about the same types of IME issues about other insurers. While it is true other insurers do have their unique quirks, Unum seems to be well-known for requiring their insureds and claimants to show-up at questionable locations, in dirty offices, and with unprofessional evaluators.
Claimants and insureds should begin to report Unum’s evaluators and situations to state licensing boards. Bottom line, it’s unprofessional and the evaluator is accountable to take the heat.