The abuses of injured workers under workcover are a battlefield and varied. However the most common “themes” we see and hear from injured workers, like “Johnny”, are the delays, denial of needed medical treatment; the inadequate, inappropriate, superficial , perfunctory, shallow and hasty “return to work” plans; the many inappropriate, cursory and frankly biased “independent” medical “opinions”; and the inhumane treatment of injured workers by “the system” and the employer.
Johnny’s workcover story
“I used to work for a manufacturing company before I had to stop due to getting carpal tunnel syndrome.[ a condition in which there is pressure on the median nerve — the nerve in the wrist that supplies feeling and movement to parts of the hand. It can lead to numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle damage in the hand and fingers.] I had to have a small operation after which kept me off work for a few weeks, I tried to return on partial hours but my doctor said I was only able to supervise, I wasn’t able to do any work.
Couldn’t return there, I was off work for two and a half years because of an adjustment disorder I developed from this traumatic experience, …
…before they ceased my treatment because apparently some doctor on their payroll thought I could work.
Because I had no choice I had to get a new job with a different factory, I didn’t think I’d get a job if I told them about my claim so they made me do the same sort of thing with my previous employer, because of this I had another episode of carpal tunnel which required a further operation, the same thing happened, I started feeling anxious and was unable to return yet they stopped my payments again!!
After this I was unable to find another job for a while so I started my own company as a plasterer, not long into my new job I again had an issue with carpal tunnel,…
This is a disgrace, my psychologist says that I can’t work but I keep having to go back to work that I’m not able to do because I’ve got a mortgage to pay.
I’m 28 years old and I’ve been working since I was 15, now there’s nothing I can do and it’s all workcovers fault!”
Delays, denial of treatment and shifting the costs that should be paid by workcover on to others, including the injured workers and their families
When “Johnny” shared his story with us, we briefly trolled the net about the painful and crippling condition (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) he suffers from, and – by accident- we stumbled on a very interesting (landmark) study by Herbert et al. in 1999 in New york. [REF: Herbert T, Janeway K, Schechter C. Carpal tunnel syndrome and workers’ compensation among an occupational clinic population in New York State. Am J Ind Me. 1999;35:335–342.]
Herbert et al. studied 135 patients diagnosed with work-related carpal tunnel syndrome. Of these patients’ workers’ compensation claims, 79% were initially challenged or received no response from their insurers.
Claims adjudication took an average of 429 days (maximum of 1617 days to get approved!!!). Authorisation for surgery following a surgeon’s request took an average of 318 days (extending to a whopping 595 days!). The mean time for treatment approval was 226 days, extending up to a whopping 1296 days or, yep, 3.6 years!!!
Insurers were interestingly also significantly more likely to challenge claims filed by non-Whites, low-wage workers, and union members.
Now, what does this landmark study prove?
That the (likely) impact of such insane delays, in addition to pain and impairment/disability, is to obviously reduce the effectiveness of the injured worker’s medical treatment; thereby increasing the chances of much poorer treatment outcomes for these injured workers and, yep, permanent disability!
Add to that a pathetic and forced or premature return to work, the most unsuitable duties and a medical whore (IME) and what chance at recovery does an injured worker, like Johnny, have?
As we all know by now, the reality is that the very same employer and/or workcover insurer who is fighting the injured worker every step of the insane way, is also selecting the doctors (aka “independent medical doctors”, and in some states “authorised primary doctor”) whom the most unfortunate injured sod is actually relying on for a proper and honest diagnosis and proper and prompt medical treatment. The best medical interest of injured workers are in fact highly compromised by the “medical whores'” (IME) allegiance to the workcover insurer or, in some states, to the corporate employers who “provide their own on-site medical doctor”.
And let’s not even talk about the ‘surveillance‘.
Thank you, Johnny for sharing your nightmare, and, most importantly to help us prove that there is a systemic pattern of misconduct and abuse by the workcover system, which seems to be the “norm” here and that this is unacceptable.
Time to KICK BUTTS
She says there is no need to be afraid and to fear workcover insurance companies and case managers. You are the power! And together we can make the insurance companies very afraid of us!
[Post dictated by workcovervictim and manually inserted on behalf of workcovervictim]