Looking for Something?
Browsing Category

Work / System

My life as it is within Workers’ Compensation – it’s a dog’s breakfast

Author:

In my current state of bewilderment, this may be the best way I can describe my life as it is today.

I shouldn’t bag a dog’s breakfast, as unlike that which the workers’ compensation system has dished out to me – a dog’s breakfast is nutritious, and dogs love eating it.

But the vision of pieces of food strewn apart, sliding about and sloppy, and pretty much dumped in a bowl destined to last a few seconds before it’s consumed without much thought or agenda, reminds me of what the system dishes out to me as an injured worker.

The system’s employees I’ve come into contact with lack any compassion, and all too often even some basic thought processes (i.e. common sense) appear to be absent. Their awareness of my predicament is shallow and their span of attention shorter than the time it takes a hungry dog to finish its breakfast.

I can imagine the bowl … I can see it all very clearly what it contains – a damn mess.

In technical terms I have outlined my current position within the system:

  • My 93cd second application has been submitted, rejected and referred to the Medical Panels (it was late, but who cares?)
  • This is the second 93cd application as the first time the insurer managed to reject the Medical Panel opinion – I know that is unheard of but somehow they were allowed to get away with it
  • I have been given no reason as to how or why the insurer was able to:
    1. contest the Medical Panel’s decision;
    2. ignore the conciliator’s instructions (well, point 385 of the recent Ombudsman’s investigation does me some idea of these machinations);
    3. get passed Workcover Assist’s instructions;
    4. offer 10 months part payments for the duration of the application process and suggest I re submit another 93cd application (what I’ve now done after selling my home!);
  • I have complained to Worksafe employees, who have notified us over the phone that the Medical Panel referral still stands and the letter of confirmation and explanation is coming to me by mail.

Continue Reading

My workers compensation battle is turning into a WorkSafe carnivale

Author:
Medical questions

It’s been a huge few weeks for WorkSafe and injured workers in Victoria.

I’ve always encouraged anyone who contacted me with their frustrations and horrid experiences of being an injured worker in Victoria to call their Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman’s role, as it was explained to me, was to gather complaints and if/when the complaints amounted in one specific matter, the Ombudsman would have reason to report the complaints to our Government and possibly investigate.

Clearly there have been many complaints and the Ombudsman just recently released this report about Worksafe’s ‘oversight’.

After finally gathering myself from the last blow that left Theo and I having to sell our home and start all over again, I resubmitted a 93CD application (that’s an application for part payments). Actually Theo is managing the application as I was unable to navigate the trauma of it all again but I also couldn’t bring myself to accept the insurer and our Government had gobbled up my compensation. Both very difficult when you have a chronic health issue and when you feel you’re being responsible for it but the other parties are trying to bury you instead of help.

I’ve seen the ad, ‘getting back, we’ll get you back, it’s good to be back, get you back, nothing like getting back.’ Hogwash! No one tried to help me get back to work! Nor did they advise us as self employers either!

Worksafe promises alot when they take our insurance premiums.

So, we’ve sent, what’s called a 93CD application to the insurer accompanied with: Continue Reading

Act 3 – explained

Author:

Big day for me today. Thank you to the Victorian Ombudsman and to all the injured workers who spoke up.

…Sadly too late – won’t bring our beautiful home and life back.

Act 3: Home lost to these vile insurer (and WorkSafe Victoria supported), unjust actions:

‘At interview, one former agent employee said that management placed pressure on staff to maintain decisions at conciliation and to not pay compensation past a certain date. This was to ensure the agent did not ‘breach’ their ‘targets’.

Read the article and full investigation, Investigation into the management of complex workers compensation claims and WorkSafe oversight on the Victorian Ombudsman’s website

Also worth reading: WorkSafe: complex claims process needs fixing

Worksafe’s Dirty tactics – finally realised

Author:

I woke up crying last night. I hardly ever cry. My boiling point hits when I’m feeling that I’m in a situation where I see no hope in sight and that I’m being treated unfairly and disrespectfully.

My boiling points have been few during the minute-to-minute demands of chronic pain management (over the last 9+ years) because it makes sense to me that you can have an accident and things can go wrong in life – that’s understandable although very upsetting and very difficult to deal with.

However, in respect to managing as a self employed injured worker with a workers compensation claim, I am unable to accept and understand the unfair and unjust treatment our Victorian system delivers.

I’ve felt the treatment from the insurer managing my claim (I don’t need to name them because they’re all the same!), Worksafe, the Independent Medical Examiners (IME’s), the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service (ACCS) and the Medical Panel IME’s has been unfair, unjust and throughout the 9+ year ordeal, I have sensed a corruptness about it.

Why? Because the system has no way of assessing chronic pain. No one asks the neuropathic pain related questions and given chronic pain is invisible, it makes it almost impossible for me to explain the injury.

That means it makes it really easy for the insurer to make me look like there’s nothing wrong with me and that I have more ability than I state.

Why was I in tears of frustration last night?

Because the insurer monster handling my claim has rejected the previous  Medical Panel Opinion from 2014 (yes the document that is meant to be binding in Federal court) for a reason I still don’t understand and no one can explain. In the next couple of months, I have to return to the ACCS for yet another horrific examination by yet another 5 IME’s who know they have no means of assessing neuropathic pain but who still require me to undress and who measure my scars (having no place to put the evidence) in order to somewhat respond to the insurer’s pathetic cluster of misconstrued information that they use to dispute my right to compensation.

The insurer has the right to do this. Worksafe loves them for it – in fact I believe they encourage it with incentives. Continue Reading

Own motion workers compensation investigation with the Victorian Ombudsman

Author:

Workers compensation frustration again

The horrid treatment toward injured workers has to stop. Two neurostimulation devices in my body are not there for the fun of it. My treatment is not ‘irrelevant for my psychological condition‘.

And the fact this system provides no appropriate measures for me to be assessed fairly for neuropathic pain is appalling.

But I’m glad to hear there is an Own Motion investigation with the Victorian Ombudsman (twitter:@VicOmbudsman).

For those fortunate enough not to encounter this monstrous system, imagine you have a health issue and you are forced to visit a specialist who was unqualified to assess you properly. You wouldn’t go right? Continue Reading

This injured worker is about to burst

Author:

Art & Chronic Pain - A Self Portrait

(Image from my book, Art & Chronic pain – A Self Portrait)

I’m going to erupt!

I feel I’ve been left without any avenue to vent the poor treatment I’ve experienced as an injured worker. I can’t make it any simpler :

I had a work accident and after declaring I had a p/t work capacity, I’m now left with $0.

That’s $0.

  • $0 financial help for any future treatment (currently undergoing thousands worth)
  • $0 wage top up
  • $0 superannuation
  • 0% return to work training or assistance
  • 0% guidance, and
  • 0° (except for this blog) to reasonably seek the promised help that I personally paid a 100% premium for in Victoria.

Wait, I have more to vent and please stay with me because you’re my only avenue remember? Continue Reading

Injured workers rising above

Author:

(By Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson)

Bags of Love Op Shop will open on the 31st July 2015

It has taken a lot longer than any of us at the Centre would have liked- however after many tears and a lot of frustration and loads of laughter and an rather risqué fashion parade the Bags of Love Op Shop will open on the 31st July 2015 .

It is yet another first in the wonderful world of workers compensation as the Bags of Love Op Shop is run completely by injured workers for the benefit of injured workers as each of them rebuild their lives in ways that has never been seen or done before.

“Bags of Love” aim to provide basic food supplies as often as is possible to ease the burden on the injured worker and the injured worker families.

There won’t be any speeches, and there won’t be any ribbons cut and the Australian stock market won’t have a sudden movement to indicate the importance of the opening of the OP Shop. Continue Reading

Interactions Between Injured Workers and Insurers in Workers’ Compensation Systems: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Research Literature.

Author:
(Excerpt from Interactions Between Injured Workers and Insurers in Workers’ Compensation Systems: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Research Literature.)

Finally, some research into claims management from the Institute for Safety Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR), Monash University by Kilgour E1, Kosny A, McKenzie D, Collie A.

Abstract

Introduction Work-related injury is a major public health problem and a worker’s recovery can be shaped by their interactions with employers, healthcare providers and the workers’ compensation system.

Most research on the effects of compensation has concentrated on examining outcomes rather than considering the compensation process itself.

There has been little attention paid to the interactions between stakeholders and only recently has the client’s view been considered as worthy of investigation. This systematic review aimed to identify and synthesize findings from peer reviewed qualitative studies that investigated injured workers interactions with insurers in workers’ compensation systems. Method A search of six electronic library databases revealed 1,006 articles. After screening for relevance, 18 articles were read in full and a search of those bibliographies revealed a further nine relevant articles. Quality assessment of the 27 studies resulted in a final 13 articles of medium and high quality being retained for data extraction. Results Included studies focused mainly on experiences of injured workers, many of whom had long term claims. Findings were synthesized using a meta-ethnographic approach. Six themes were identified which characterised the interactions between insurers and injured workers.

The majority of interactions were negative and resulted in considerable psychosocial consequences for injured workers. Positive interactions were less frequently reported and included respectful, understanding and supportive communication and efficient service from insurers.

Conclusion Findings from this synthesis support the growing consensus that involvement in compensation systems contributes to poorer outcomes for claimants. Interactions between insurers and injured workers were interwoven in cyclical and pathogenic relationships, which influence the development of secondary injury in the form of psychosocial consequences instead of fostering recovery of injured workers. This review suggests that further research is required to investigate positive interactions and identify mechanisms to better support and prevent secondary psychosocial harm to injured workers

Yet Another Comedy of Errors: Act III, the Outcome

Author:

Those on long term benefits should be cut like 'low hanging fruit', Denis Cosgrove wearing my compensation.Scene I

The long-awaited meeting takes place, as scheduled, 11 months after my lodgement of a 93cd application.

Theo and I, together with my WorkCover Assist representative met with the Conciliator and K – a rather gruff and insensitive guy who is representing my VWA-appointed Agent. We have not met him before nor to our knowledge has he been involved in managing my claim. From the outset, it was obvious that he would fight against us every inch of the way. You can well imagine that the spirit of conciliation was lost upon him. He offered no apology for his rude behaviour.

If you do not know, conciliation is a voluntary, flexible, confidential and interest based process. The parties seek to reach an amicable settlement of disputes with the assistance of the conciliator, who acts as a neutral third-party (whilst still abiding by the system’s own legislation).

Just to recapitulate, we had raised three important disputed issues for conciliation:

(i) that part payments for my medical expenses were still outstanding;

(ii) that contrary to the “expert” opinion of my Agent, my working capacity was still limited to 15 hours a week and had not improved since the Medical Panel had examined me nor had I shown that I possess any new skills believed to be contributing to this added work capacity;

(iii) that my Agent was claiming that the date they are required to begin any payments is the date from when I “completed” the 93cd application (September 2013), and not the date on which I had actually lodged the application (June 2013). Until I had provided a current Tax return (which was a mandatory requirement and for the ATO is March of the following year), the application remained invalid; furthermore they consider my early June capacity date to be irrelevant. Continue Reading

I’ve been nominated for a WorkSafe Award

Author:

VWAAwardWebsiteHeaderI’ve met some incredible people who have become my dear friends and my greatest supports during my pain journey. One of whom I often rave about is the wonderful John Quintner, Consultant Physician in Rheumatology and Pain Medicine. You’ve seen him battle beside me publicly on social media. Not only helping me with my comprehension and study of chronic pain, John has also helped me through the tangled forest of Workers Compensation. He now advocates to expose the many pitfalls for injured workers in the various Australian Worker’s Compensation systems.

In supporting my unequal struggle with the Victorian Workcover Authority (VWA) he has witnessed what it takes to survive being in the system. As if his support isn’t enough, he now honours me by nominating me for a VWA Heath and Safety Award.

Soula, with your permission I have just nominated you for a Victorian WorkCover Authority Award in recognition of your long and arduous struggle against all odds to return to work. Whether or not the nomination is successful, I want you to know that in my opinion and in that of the other referees, Professor Stephen Gibson & Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson, you are most deserving of such recognition. In addition to your return to work, you have performed an important role in pain education as an advocate for sufferers of this distressing condition (pudendal neuralgia). Your ability to smile and to be creative in the face of adversity has been an inspiration to many pain sufferers around the world. I wish you the best of luck!

Basically, it’s about this:

Worker Return to Work Achievement. Tell us their story!
This category recognises a worker’s outstanding achievements in returning to work following a workplace injury.

Nominating a person, group or initiative is easy! All you need to do is tell us the nominee’s achievements by following the prompt questions – tell us what the person/business/group did, why they did it, and how it had a positive impact on their workplace.

I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but after experiencing the VWA culture for 7 years now, I’m pretty sure the nomination will be rejected for some paltry reason/s based on my pending application for part payments of compensation. It’s been over a year since I submitted that application, so they are obviously struggling to come to terms with the fact that I attempted a return to work. Accepting a nomination for someone they have not been supporting in their return to work would be hard to imagine. But I live in the hope that has sustained me so far – that of a successful outcome.

(Update July 22, 2014. Nomination accepted)

Nomination as submitted by John Quintner and supported by Professor Stephen Gibson and Rosemary McKenzie Ferguson:

Soula and her husband Theo run their own business in art and graphic design, providing creative solutions to their clients. Her injury has had a major impact upon their lives together, as well as upon their business. She has consulted many health professionals and has been given a large variety of opinions, investigations and treatment procedures.
Describe your job prior to your injury.

Prior to her injury she and her husband ran a highly successful business. Soula was also a prolific artist in her own right. She was very energetic and a great support to her family and friends.
How were you injured and what was your injury?

Soula fell onto her sacrum when a fit ball upon which she was seated burst. Her injury was extremely difficult to diagnose but after some considerable time her pelvic pain was ascribed to an injury to her pudendal nerve – pudendal neuralgia. The insertion of a pelvic nerve stimulator was a turning point in her rehabilitation. She is still quite disabled and requires regular medication for pain relief.
Describe the job they do now (including employer if different).

For the past 12 months Soula has been attempting a gradual return to work within her physical capacity and has reached 9 hours per week. She has had to overcome many physical difficulties in terms of her home and work environments. Soula is still engaged in art and design work. Since her injury she has taken on an important advocacy role for people suffering from pudendal neuralgia.
What were the hardest and best things about returning to work?

The hardest thing was the lack of support from her WorkCover-appointed Agent, who placed many obstacles in her path and has refused to pay her any compensation for the past 12 months. Soula has been examined by two medical assessment panels and has found the Conciliation process to be unhelpful. The Ombudsman has been approached for assistance. The best things have been her ability to retain a sense of humour, to remain creative and positive in the face of adversity and to provide inspiration to many pain sufferers around the world.
What do you think helped you most to return to work and get your life back?

The support of her husband and family, as well as her many friends in the art world and in the world of pain management. Last year, with the support of a pharmaceutical company and members of the Australian Pain Society, Soula addressed a meeting in Sydney of over 160 pain specialists. The text of her address to this meeting is posted on her website. She has also taken part in an advertisement to raise research funds for the Faculty of Pain Medicine, Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists. Soula has become an advocate for sufferers of pelvic pain conditions.
What advice would you give other injured workers?

The many injured workers and fellow pain sufferers who follow her web-log have benefited from reading about her quite varied experiences whilst in the WorkCover system. She found the system to be decidedly unfriendly to women with undiagnosed persistent pain but she has counselled them not to lose hope. For those who are faced with her situation, her advice to other injured workers is not to declare a work capacity,

View my nomination at www.healthandsafetyawards.vwa.vic.gov.au/browse-entries/entries/the-hurting-strings

 

Subscribe to my newsletter

Subscribe to my blog posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to new posts by email.

Definitions of pain

What is Pudendal Neuralgia (PN)?
Most simply put PN is Carpal Tunnel in the pelvis/buttocks. Compression of the Pudendal Nerve occurs after trauma to the pelvis and is aggravated with pressure. The pain is often described as a toothache like pain, with spasms, sensations of tingling, numbness, or burning. It can be very debilitating.

What is Neuropathic pain?
Neuropathic pain is the result of an injury or malfunction in the peripheral or central nervous system. The pain is often triggered by an injury, but this injury may or may not involve actual damage to the nervous system. More…

Pain Train my online health record. New SPECIAL price $14.95 per year

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Order my book $31 (inc. postage)

Archives