In the quest to curb costs, the WorkCover system often engages in counterproductive actions or inactions such as delaying care, inadequate care, denial of responsibility and minimization/ downgrading of the injury. Way too often, the depressed injured worker learns that delayed or inappropriate medical care has resulted in a chronic condition, and they are told that this could have all been prevented had you seen a doctor/surgeon earlier, but the (Eg. nerve damage, whatever) is now permanent. The injured worker already felt a sense of frustration, fear, and helplessness, but with that information, they now feel angry and hopeless. In addition to that many WorkCover case managers will take the liberty to fabricate intricate mumbo-jumbo cover letters that are sent to a cherry-picked independent medical examiner, together with some irrelevant medical information. One of the more common cover letters we have seen states that “… it has been alleged that there may be a psychological overlay…“.
If you have been unfortunate enough to have suffered a psychological or psychiatric injury or illness at your workplace, once you start down the workcover claim path, you will soon realise that this is when your nightmare will truly begin. Once your workcover agent receives your claim, they will do just about anything to find ways to either deny or reduce your benefits. One of the unsavoury tactics used by the workcover insurer is to sent you to independent medical examinations.
For any injured worker the prospect of having to undergo an Independent Medical Examination (IME) causes a lot of apprehension and fear. But for those workers who have suffered a psych injury at work ( in particular a primary psych injury) attending an IME can cause even more trepidation!
Emotional and/or psychiatric injury is so often caused by the interaction(s) with the workcover system, in particular interactions with the insurer (i.e. case manager) and by ongoing stigmatitsation and psychological profiling of injured workers as malingerers, fraudsters, careless and even dumb!
Here is an interesting legal case which may be useful for people who suffer from an underlying or pre-existing psychiatric or psychological (mental) injury, which is aggravated at work! In this fairly recent (Feb 19) case an injured worker successfully appealed against a decision NOT to compensate him. The court found that his employment had significantly contributed towards aggravation of his underlying/pre-existing psychiatric disorder.This case shows the meaning of “significant contribution” of work-related factors in relation to a worker’s mental injury/ disease. Work-related stressors can still be “significant contributing factors” even if the worker has a genetic/hereditary predisposition to the mental injury/disease or has even suffered from it in the past.
Good morning all!
Here at Diary of a Workcover Victim we are constantly looking for opportunities to bring change about to a broken workers compensation system. Unfortunately this is made difficult by the fact that each State and Territory administers their own laws relating to Workcover. We therefore have to take opportunities as they come up on a State by State basis and hope we can slowly change the National conversation.
In Victoria at the moment we are preparing for a Royal Commission into Mental Health and we are viewing this as a golden opportunity to get Workcover into the conversation. The Commissioners have been asked to review the Mental Health system and offer recommendations on how it can be improved/fixed.
Claiming compensation for psychological injury can be very difficult and challenging.
Having liability accepted for a psychological work-related injury can be very difficult, even more so because the connection or relationship to work can be (and is often) less obvious than in workcover claims involving only physical injuries. However in the following recent legal cases, the courts accepted that there was a psychological work-related injury present.
I recently asked an orthopaedic surgeon why he recently decided to cease accepting workcover patients; the surgeon gave an interesting but perhaps wretched answer, saying that workcover patients are much more difficult o engage and treat than general patients because “these injured workers are so angry at the [workcover] system”.
Many IME Psychiatrists, even those who testify for workcover insurers avoid diagnosing psychological / psychiatric conditions related to injured workers’ trauma. They generally do this by deliberately avoiding any tests that were designed to assess the injured worker’s mental condition in question. Is it any wonder the IME finds no evidence of for example, PTSD or major depression when s/he doesn’t even test for it?