December 9, 2020
by Elizabeth Aaberg

COVID 19 Travel Restrictions – Impact on Independent Medical Examinations in Washington

On November 13, 2020 Washington state governor Jay Inslee issued a travel advisory recommending that people arriving in Washington from other states or countries, including returning Washington residents, self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival.  On November 24, 2020, the Department of Labor and Industries announced that in light of the travel advisory, all in-person IMEs requiring injured workers living out-of-state to travel to the state of Washington be cancelled. The Department recommended these IMEs not be rescheduled until the end of the year or until further notice.

The Department’s announcement will likely lead to a backlog of IMEs once lifted. In the meantime, employers may need to request the Department be flexible with deadlines related to IMEs and should stay in communication with adjudicators as they try to reschedule. Governor Inslee’s travel advisory could also result in cancellations and/or limited availability of out of state doctors planning to travel to Washington to perform IMEs due the self-quarantine recommendation.

Conducting telehealth IMEs via video may be an option in certain cases. The Department allows IMEs pertaining to the following issues to be conducted via telehealth with consent of the worker: 1) mental health, 2) dermatology, 3) speech (when there is no documented hearing loss), 4) kidney function, 5) hematopoietic system, and 6) endocrine system. The Department’s policy on telehealth IMEs has been extended through June 30, 2021.

If you have any questions concerning IMEs in the context of COVID-19, please contact me at (503) 595-6144 or .