Looking for Something?
Posts Tagged for

Medical panels

Only because of their stupidity…

Author:
Post-box

“…that they’re able to be so sure of themselves.” wrote Franz Kafka in The Trial.

I really relate to this quote right now because I just can’t make sense of my current pending status.

I’ve now been waiting 8 weeks for 5 professionals to answer two questions… that an assigned WorkSafe insurer had the right to set.

That’s bloody confusing in itself.

Further to, I’m wondering a couple more things:

  1. how these 5 professionals, the Convenor, and the staff at Medical Panels convince themselves this process is helpful to me and other injured workers, and
  2. whether they enjoyed their Christmas as much as I didn’t

I called the Medical Panels to follow-up the report and express my anxiety on the matter. I’m feeling I’m going to explode. I’ve been breathing in so much my stomach feels like it has rocks in it and my neck feels like it’s fused with my shoulders. Continue Reading

A horrid equation: Medical + Legal = Medical Panels

Author:

From where I’m standing, you could never believe our Government has set up a system to support injured workers.

This very system that was established (apparently) for the injured worker is very well calculated and excruciating to navigate and whilst navigating it, the injured worker usually remains unfed and untreated.

My complete process from application to outcome and reimbursement of weekly payments (if I ‘win’) could go on almost a year. And there was a year before that when the system threw me into a disillusioned hole when it pulled the rug from under me after I declared a part time work capacity.

If you’re an injured worker reading this – don’t ever declare a part time capacity until you’re sure you have a solid one.

Whichever way you look at the situation for injured workers, the equation always adds up to unnecessary, unfair and insensitive treatment.

While I wait for the Medical Panels to send me their decision, their faces, movements, questions and gestures swirl around my head and I try desperately to guess the outcome.

Even at 2am, I fail to guess. It should be simple to go to an appointment and explain your personal health status shouldn’t it? It’s simple for my pain team.

However it isn’t simple for the Medical Panel because it’s not an appointment, it’s an assessment – they’re not the same. From my experience, this assessment is a full blown investigation and that so severely changes the experience… and my heart rate. I doubt I need to state that this scenario changes my pain levels but if I do, head back to page 1 of this website and start reading again. Continue Reading

My reply from the Victorian Workcover Authority

Author:

I thought it best to start another post rather than comment below my original post, Formal Complaint to WorkSafe. This really deserves some space and attention. I don’t think I need to say too much other than to explain the image is a copy of the letter I received from the Victorian Workcover Authority accompanied with my reply.

WorkSafe Reply To Soula Pg1WorkSafe Reply To Soula Pg2You can all make what you will of this exchange between me, the injured worker, and the system setup to provide ‘quality income protection’.

Dear Andrew.

Thank you for the belated response to my official complaint. I trust you will not mind if I respond and in so doing make some terse comments about the way in which your organisation has behaved towards me.

  • An injured worker should not have to be disadvantaged (such as held up payments) when a WorkSafe Agent employee is on leave. Your failure to address this complaint means that you do not see it as being an issue of importance. Am I reading you correctly?
  • I don’t appreciate having a valid point and being excluded from the Facebook page or having my posts deleted. Obviously WorkCover does not want to be seen in a bad light, giving the illusion that all injured workers are happy with the way they have been treated in your system.
  • I have asked 6 times where it is stated in the regulations that my WorkSafe Agent (enter WorkSafe Agent name) have 60 days to make a decision after a Medical Panels opinion has been delivered and have still not received an answer. In response you say: ‘These are matters that are outside of (worksafe agent’s name) control’, and ‘it has attributed to both the absence of a staff member and also the receipt of additional information about your capacity subsequent to the return of the Medical Panel opinion’ In fact the member was absent well after the 60 days following receipt of the Medical Panel’s opinion.
  • And the comment that follows constitutes a ‘catch all’ answer: ‘case officers generally have a good understanding of the Act and are able to respond to a broad range of enquiries. I am advised that the information required to respond to your enquiry was contained within the Administrative Law Act 1978.’  Can you please be more specific in order that I can understand your response?
  • I have asked about the surveillance evidence that was provided to the Medical Panel ‘for completeness’. I had previously requested all my surveillance material and was allegedly provided with ‘all of it’. I want to know where the additional information provided to the Panels came from and why it was not provided to me when I asked? The additional information was not provided to me and, as I have specified in previous emails, it relates to details of my travel to Italy posted on my Facebook art page. This information was never provided to me. Nor does it seem necessary for me to have to ask AGAIN for this information.
  • In sum, these responses make it absolutely clear to me just where Victorian Workcover Authority’s priorities lie – they are designed to avoid being seen to take any responsibility for the welfare of compensation claimants and their employers, whatever the cost may be to one or both of them.

And I want to express the following thoughts which are specific to the points I made in my original complaint: Continue Reading

Will I live to regret it?

Author:

April 2, 2014 update:

(after my WorkSafe Agent reply)

I’ll get my cheese @WorkSafe_Vic…

Idiot!

Have you had that moment? Do you remember promising yourself you’d always try your best in life and remain as honest as you can? But then down the track something happens and you find yourself asking, ‘why did I have to do rock the boat?’

Often I wonder how much easier life might be if I didn’t try so hard, if I gave in a little and didn’t aspire for the best I could possibly be. This positive attitude has occasionally got me into nothing but trouble. Sure, I have a clear conscious, but I’ve had to endure more stress, financial loss, and much more pain. No guesses, I’m talking about the Victorian WorkCover system again.

After my initial battle in 2009 with my WorkSafe Agent where I was first assessed by a Medical Panel, I was found to have no working capacity indefinitely, which meant three quarters of my pre-injury weekly wage was certified until the end, of what was projected to be, my working life. But, with diagnosis and great treatment (none of which has stemmed from the WorkCover system), I have improved. After acquiring a regular monthly design job that covers the wages of our full-time designer presented itself and being desperate to revisit our old life of working together, Theo (my husband) and I considered re-establishing our design studio, Origin of Image. We wanted to celebrate our life together, I wished for some resemblance to the ‘working human being’ I was, I craved the challenge of a client brief and most of all I desperately wanted to remove myself from being part of a poisonous system, at least when seen from the viewpoint of an injured worker.

I proceeded in a most unrealistic way to convince myself that I had a working capacity. I got excited at being able again to think for more than 10 minutes, I got excited at not having to sleep throughout every day in order to function, I got excited when finding that I could conceptualise again.

Was I daft? Continue Reading

Off to the Convenor of Medical Panels with my invisible pain

Author:

You know that feeling before something great is going to happen, like just arriving at the airport and knowing you’re off on a great holiday? It’s a great feeling isn’t it? Makes your insides really happy, the body and mind get a lift, and troubles seem to slide away, everything feels like it’s going to be alright. Well, I couldn’t feel more the opposite right now. I have an appointment with the Convenor of Medical Panels on Tuesday and I’m feeling more like I’m facing a funeral.

Who are the Convenor of Medical Panels for those lucky enough not to have had any experience with them? I’ll just pop in their website information as they explain it best:

Medical Panels are constituted pursuant to the Accident Compensation Act 1985 and the Wrongs Act 1958.
A Medical Panel may be asked to provide an Opinion where there is disagreement or uncertainty about aspects of a WorkCover related injury or medical condition.
A Medical Panel may be asked to provide a Determination where there is disagreement or uncertainty about the degree of impairment resulting from an alleged Wrongs Act injury.
A Medical Panel Opinion or Determination on a medical question must be accepted as final and conclusive.

If you’re an injured worker, you won’t need to read on as you’ve either experienced the Panels yourself, or after reading the above lines you’ll know exactly what I’m about to say. For those who are not injured workers and want to understand your injured worker friend, read on. And if you are a Panels assessor*, please, consider the following and what injured workers have to endure when they face you.

Following, are my thoughts and the questions that will swivel around my brain, down my spine and burn my pelvis until this appointment is over and the final decision is mailed to me. Continue Reading

‘Chronic Pain Disorder’ medical panel opinion?

Author:

(For a further update on this issue please read Expired and fallen through the cracks)

What does it mean? Well, I’m struggling to get a clear understanding to be honest, even after being stamped with the ‘condition’ and living with it (apparently) for almost 5 years. To date, it seems to have panned out as psychological condition, gynecological condition, we don’t have to pay anymore medical expenses, blank stares, you can refer the matter to court, (and on and on it pathetically goes).

Let me explain myself further (and hopefully I might inspire some wonderful WorkCover specialist to shed some light), here I go:

From what I’ve gathered Chronic Pain Disorder basically means big general pain bucket and, its time to update the Wrongs Act 1958. And I’m stating very obvious information here because our Government has missed a very small detail… its 2012!!! So let me clear my throat… I’m going to have to make it loud… uuuuhuuuum:

Hello, anyone out there? If you are, it’s time to update the Wrongs Act of 1958 and the AMA Guidelines (1990s). Injured workers have injuries that can be addressed more appropriately, giving them a greater chance of getting back to work and lessening instances of permanent damage if the practitioners in the system can identify and use current information.

So what am I saying (and I speak from my own experience obviously)?

After my 130 week payment termination (how convenient for an injured worker to have no income during this time!!! Oh whoops, sorry, I should mention I did have the option to go to Centrelink), I attended Conciliation to dispute this termination of payments and from there was forwarded on for assessment to the Medical Panels (Medical Panels are constituted pursuant to the Accident Compensation Act 1985 and the Wrongs Act 1958 as stated on the website). I was assessed as having a Chronic Pain Disorder, basically, there is no specification for Neuropathic/Peripheral pain, or Neuralgia let alone any specific Pudendal Nerve issues or associated medical term so I was dumped in the big general pain bucket.

(At this point I’d like to break down the chronic pain disorder meaning even further. From my injured-worker-who-is-requiring-support-and-proper-treatment perspective this ‘opinion’ also means: we don’t know anything about back pain, we are not up to date, we don’t care about being up to date, too hard basket, vague, we can see you’re in pain – this’ll do)

So after gaining this vague label (and this is the second one because your WorkCover case number provides the first!), every decision the WorkSafe Agent and associated bodies, made since (or didn’t) stemmed from this opinion. So my follow up Independent* Medical Assessments (IMEs) were with Orthopedic Surgeons and Psychiatrists and yes, you guessed it if you’ve read through quite a bit of this site, they found no injury. Did anyone refer me on to a Neurologist? No. (Did I ask, yes, was I ignored, obviously or perhaps I was caught up in another case manager change over). Did any practitioner really look into my issue? No. They followed the big general pain bucket style, I was thrown in again and again.

However, some medical expenses support continued and also my weekly entitlements. Until last year that is. Firstly, the request for my wonderful, reviving peripheral stimulation device was ignored so I had to seek an answer through the Conciliation process (and yes of course my surgeon and I requested permission but as if I was going to wait 1 year for the faffing around, so I would like to take this opportunity and thank my private health insurer for paying 90% of the costs and continues to be my main medical support through my biggest progress period), and also, some massage reimbursements that suddenly died off too. Shortly after this, all remaining medical expenses were terminated leaving me with $zilch therapy support! In my letter I was told the decision was based on my ‘last’ Independent Medical Examinations (IME’s). What’s strange about that is the referred reports were exactly like all previous IME’s and I had been receiving medical expenses after those reports. This termination letter was quite sudden… out of the blue. It even ignored the most recent report that was due to come from an IME, a Psychiatrist** but had not yet been sent to the WorkSafe Agent or myself, not that it would have made a difference as the psych reports all say I’m fit for duty but it adds to the my point of poor support from this system, and makes me question the far from WorkSafe protocol of asking for a report and not using it. The decision to terminate medical expenses had obviously been made and I have no idea why and never will.

But. I have a hunch why this may have happened suddenly, and here my big general pain bucket opinion reappears. During Conciliation for the above mentioned two disputes (unpaid reimbursements, and seeking a response for the request of my stimulation device), the definition of my ‘Chronic Pain Disorder’ suddenly transformed and became a ‘Psychological Condition’. Apparently, this particular Conciliator thought that for some time, my WorkSafe Agent had it wrong and I was not meant to be having massage treatments or physiotherapy for a ‘Chronic Pain Disorder’ because it was a ‘Psychological condition’ (yes I know I’m repeating myself but that’s the way it was told, and actually repeated again, and again…).

My stomach turned when my Conciliator looked at my WorkSafe Agent representative and in a curious, happy manner said, that’s a fight for another day and continued on to resolve the mistaken unpaid reimbursements and to seek an answer in relation to my request for the stimulation device. At the time I didn’t understand it (and couldn’t for the life of me think of what might be funny either) and nor did I understand later when I spoke to this Conciliator on the phone and he repeated yet again, that I had a ‘Psychological condition’ and even added his confusion as to how a stimulation device can treat a… yes, he said it again, a ‘Psychological condition’. No where did my WorkSafe Agent or the Conciliator, dispute having paid my Neurosurgeon’s appointments???? I won the dispute for my massage reimbursements on account my Insurer was ‘honouring’ their having paid them previously but I was firmly told there would be no more massage treatments or therapy support and certainly no stimulation reimbursement. They were however continuing my General Practitioner and Neurologist’s appointments (but not treatment, get it? Neither do I!)

And the fight for another day? It came. I disputed the final decision made by the WorkSafe Agent to refuse reimbursement for my stimulation device and also tried to dispute the medical expenses termination. I didn’t get very far. Even though I had a professional Conciliator this time, my only choices were to go back to the Medical Panel for reassessment (yes, head back to 1958 and the 90’s!) or I was offered the choice of taking my WorkSafe Agent to Federal court.

My point.

Accurate diagnosis is critical to an injured worker’s support and chances of recovery. That’s impossible if our System uses the Wrongs Act 1958, the 20 year expired AMA Guidelines and unprofessional and uneducated employees.

Conclusion.

So, now I have a brilliant stimulation device implanted, it revived me and gave me the ability to research my issue and that led me to a Chronic Pelvic Pain Physiotherapist, in the General Public system (that’s right, so she’s free), who finally diagnosed me correctly (and you may have guessed I don’t have a psych condition, pain disorder, or Gyneocological condition!). I’m currently having treatment and begun to make some progress, which is giving me hope that soon I might be able to work part time again. My WorkSafe Agent has not contributed to any of the effective treatment and worse still, doesn’t even want to know about it. Of course I tried, the first thing I did when I was diagnosed was call my (passing through at the time) Case Manager to tell him my exciting news and provide the WorkSafe Agent with my Physiotherapist’s details in order to help other injured workers. In one phone call I got the following details:

  • My Neurosurgeon didn’t know how to write reports in order to get me reimbursement for my implant,
  • WorkSafe don’t want to be seen paying for implants,
  • Why would they call the Physiotherapist when she was not treating me for my work injury (back to ‘Psychological Condition’),
  • You have a ‘Gynecological Condition’ (!!!!).

I wrote to our WorkCover Minister.

And please, once again, anyone from anywhere in the system, if I have any of this information wrong or misunderstood, please make a comment. Clarify some detail, answer my queries, give injured workers some hope.

* Read my definition of independent
** I have learnt not to read the reports from ‘IME’s’ especially Psychiatrists as the awful assumptions, judgements and pathetic template style assessment really bothers me, but my husband read this particular report (when it finally arrived months after my termination decision was made) and had to share one bit of information. I was described as tall! I’m 157cm!!!!????… no, not so tall no matter how much I stretch!!

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