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Worksafe’s Dirty tactics – finally realised

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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.

I nearly burst into tears again this morning when Theo was reading the paper and informed me of this front page article in The Age:

Dirty tactics by insurance companies make injured workers miserable

by Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker, Nick Toscano

People think Theo and I are really brave for following our dreams and packing up our life to make a whole new one in a beautiful country town.

In reality, Theo and I needed to find a way for us to work within my capacity restraints. I have no issue with being responsible for my health issue but I have a right to some compensation. The sacrifices of starting all over again are carried around in knots in our stomach as we put everything on the line, leaving behind the people we love to start again.

There’s no compensation.

In the Workers Compensation System’s eyes I have a total impairment score of 0% even though the neurosurgeon on the Medical Panel who assessed me wished me a miracle on my way out of the appointment.

There’s something smelly here…

Regardless of the WorkSafe Victoria spokesman’s comment below, I have never been treated with sensitivity and respect, in fact this system has never been able to assess me fairly for neuropathic pain – it has created no method for it. My two neurostimulation implants are ignored because they are seen as irrelevant treatment for my psychological condition (as stated by the ACCS conciliator the first time I battled for reimbursement).

…He said WorkSafe’s position was that “every injured worker must be treated with sensitivity and respect and WorkSafe continues to do everything it can to help their rehabilitation, recovery and safe return to work”.

I’ve contacted the Victorian Ombudsman again – it’s my only voice. I was told once that if they receive enough complaints about the one thing they can compile a report. That’s my best shot.

And just one more thing… on this note Mr/Mrs WorkSafe Victoria Spokesman:

A WorkSafe Victoria spokesman said a recent survey of 5000 injured workers showed that more than 86 per cent were satisfied with the way their agent handled the their claims, including eligibility, independent medical examiners and termination of benefits.

You didn’t survey me… I fell out of the system after the blow from the last ACCS conciliation meeting – almost having a break down from the unfair treatment served by the insurer.

How many more broken injured workers did you not get to survey and are they in your books as ‘returned to work’? Your loaded surveys won’t work for long… let’s hope we don’t lose more injured workers in the time it takes for more people to speak up and expose this horrid system.

I’m happy to speak up for anyone who wants more information in this regard. I have loads of horrid experiences to report. They wake me almost every night…

Thank you Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker, Nick Toscano and The Age for writing and publishing the story Dirty tactics by insurance companies make injured workers miserable

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  • beaglemum

    Oh this sounds so familiar!! I was ‘fortunate’, I was given an impairment score of 13%, as I had my coccyx removed and also some injury to my sacrum. One of the IMEs also said to me they wished they could’ve done more for me. There’s just no facility for them to include nerve damage in their impairment ratings. But loss of some sexual function is supposed to be at least 5 % – they don’t take into consideration that pudendal neuropathy has a huge effect on sexual function. Not to mention the fact that you can’t sit down, so you have to lay down all the time – how can that not be a larger impairment? I was so frustrated by it all. And in addition I have other nerve damage that wasn’t counted. My life has been ruined, I will never be the same again, but I got a pittance from Worksafe for my incapacity payment. I ended up filing for Total and Permanent Disablement through my superannuation insurance, but that money is quickly dwindling too – by the time we bought a more comfortable car (an SUV), and have just had to live on some of it (my husband is also disabled), we just have very little left. We’d like to buy our own home, but we just don’t have the deposit, so we continue to live with the stress of renting. So frustrating.

    • soula

      I so relate Beaglemum… I’m sad to read your experience. No one asks the questions do they? It’s so hard to swallow especially as we live in Australia. This greed and intimidation and lack of support is just unacceptable – and it should be anywhere! I paid a premium, I pay one now and yet when we need the compensation, they swallow it. I relate with the TPD also. It only goes so far. Weekly wages are meant to be insured – where are they? Here’s hoping the media helps us. And the Ombudsman – keep calling them!

      • beaglemum

        And the other thing is that so few doctors understand pudendal neuralgia too. I told my GP and a rehabilitation specialist (who was the one who referred me to the orthopaedic surgeon) about the pain I was feeling, trying to describe the feeling….. like I’d been riding a bike or a horse, but they dismissed it. The orthopod dismissed it too, and sent me for x-rays etc, and ended up removing my coccyx – a surgery that most likely exacerbated the nerve damage, including the pudendal neuropathy. And it didn’t help that I then had a wound breakdown, and they had to open me up all over again 4 mths later….. the pain specialists I saw afterwards both told me that that wouldn’t helped my nerve damage at all. Can you recommend a good neurologist for the pudendal neuropathy? We’ve just moved and I am going to be getting a new GP, and I’d like to ask for a referral to somebody who might be able to help my overall nerve damage, but most importantly the pudendal. The last specialist I saw was a pain specialist and he said he’d done all he could for me, once Worksafe turned down my second ketamine infusion (ended up having it done in a public hospital – just the local hospital in Benalla…. it wasn’t the optimal situation). I’m just tired of the pain.

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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 aggrevated 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.

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