Many injured workers are forced to repeatedly attend IME psychiatrist assessments and even Medical Panels to have their workcover benefits continued. Many find this continual harassment debilitating and very traumatic, such as injured worker “A” who shares her/his story and experience…

Fact is  many injured workers who have to repeatedly attend IME examinations (particularly with IME psychiatrists) are repeatedly traumatised by having to continuously regurgitate their  painful and/or traumatic work related illness/injury. Often before and -especially after- such IMEs those injured workers’ mood and emotional state plummets – at times to a suicidal level.

How can our workcover system put traumatised injured or ill workers through such repeated grueling process? Are they not supposed to have some “understanding” of PTSD, major depression and anxiety?

Many injured/ill workers unfortunate enough to be trapped in the work-over system, suffer “invisible” injuries/illnesses, but which are very real; and each time these injured workers are -repeatedly- asked to expose their wounds. Like onions, we are required to peel back a piece or layer of our injured selves and allow these “supposed” IME shrink experts to poke and to prod and, in many cases, literally and painfully undo any mental progress (if any) we have made… taking us back considerably. How can this process  be to the benefit of our condition?


Injured/ill worker “A” story

Hi! I have never done anything like this before but feel desperate for someone to hear my pain.

I am better off than many injured workers in that my employers accepted my injuries were work based. That said, I struggle daily to survive.

I am only here because I made a promise to my [spouse]. Otherwise I would not be.

I have been on workcover for almost ten years! Depression/anxiety – bullying at work etc.

I recently had another independent examination [IME]. It has been a couple of weeks since, but I am still on the edge.

I want people to know that these [IME] ‘examinations’ are sheer TORTURE!

These so called professional examiners make you feel so much worse. It sets me back in my recovery, not forward!

After the last two independent examinations I felt so stressed that I resumed physically hurting myself.

Last time I had a long ‘rest’ in a clinic for my own safety.

It is difficult for me to cope with daily life, well my version of daily life! Without the ongoing stress by ever changing case managers etc.

I want to cry rivers of grief, for the life I have lost. I am sad for my family- for the [husband/wife], and [father/mother] they have lost.

I am not the same person I was.

I don’t have one single friend anymore. Lets face it, who wants to choose to be around someone depressed for so long! Someone who has days where s/he is too scared to walk to her/his  own letterbox!

Do they realise the strength it takes to get out of bed on a bad day! Do the decision makers at workcover truly believe that someone who suffers major depression and anxiety is a good candidate for putting through the riggers of an independent exam?? Is it humane?

My brain is in fast-forwarding mode, my memory is impaired, timelines are just a fuzz. During an independent exam the more questions they ask the more my head fills to the point I think it will explode! My body is soaked in perspiration, my heart thumps rapidly out of my chest, I tremble, I was scratching my arm so much I didn’t notice it was bleeding.

What did he say? Wait! I haven’t finished answering that question yet! Did I muddle up dates? Why is he cutting me off? Why is that clock ticking so loud! I don’t remember what medication I am on- my [spouse] looks after that. He thinks I am stupid, what is going to happen to me? I said one [family member] is odd, why is he writing the word ‘Odd’ down? Did I say something bad, s/he isn’t mentally ill- does he think that is what I mean? No! What? Next question- BUT!

My head hurts, I want to go home, please let the pain stop, I can’t think anymore, I want to cry but I can’t, oh god I’m so scared, I can’t do this anymore, maybe I would be better off dead!

Huh? “People get stuck in bushfires and get over it!” why did he say that? I am not a liar, he thinks I am a liar, why would anyone do this? What did he say, he keeps cutting me off!

Oh God- I can’t get those images out of my head (work related injury/illness description).

I haven’t finished, he is saying goodbye? is it over? What did I say?

Then…. I am driven back home….huddle in a ball in my bed…dosed up with pills…. Wanting to be free of this life.


We have some potentially useful tips on What to do when repeated independent medical exams are aggravating your psychological injury