A “psychiatric evaluation,” “psychiatric assessment,” “IME” (Independent Medical Evaluation) or “mental evaluation” mean the same thing: a psychiatrist evaluates the psychiatric condition of an individual in the past and/or present, in order to answer specific questions (such as those with legal implications for the person being examined). Elements of the evaluation vary from case to case depending on the questions. Psychiatrists use skill, experience, and sometimes diagnostic studies (such as psychological tests). Whenever possible, I spend time one-on-one with the person I am examining, obtaining a relevant history, I may review records, test results, sometimes question collateral informants, and synthesize all of this information to arrive at a diagnosis and conclusions. The result is my medical opinion, reached with a reasonable medical probability (i.e. “more likely than not”).
I may produce a written report as part of my evaluation. Depending on the questions raised, I may also be asked to make a formal diagnosis, to render my opinion as to the causation of the problems, need for treatment of any diagnosed condition, and/or recommendations for treatment.
As mentioned above, the term “IME” stands for Independent Medical Examination. The key word, of course, is “independent,” which is simply the impartial examination by a doctor; that is, the fact that the examination is not conducted to benefit any one point of view or agenda, but solely to reach impartial findings and conclusions.