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

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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.

  • This week I received my “Medical Panel” letter and appointment date, which was accompanied by the three previous Medical Panel opinions (I once believed that these opinions would be binding when tested in a Federal Court of Law) which will be read by Medical Panel No. 4 at the next appointment.

med-panel-02

  • My legal status is bound up within the following document:
    • Medical Panel No 1 (MP1) 2009 ‘confirmed’ I had a chronic pain disorder and that I will unlikely ever work again (no mention of pudendal neuralgia or of neuropathic pain)

med-panel-03

    • Medical Panel No 2 (MP2) 2011 ‘confirmed’ my impairment scores – both physical and mental are 0%, and they’re permanent (how so?)

med-panel-05med-panel-04

    • Medical Panel No 3 (MP3) 2015 agrees I have part time capacity to work as stated with my unique working conditions (ie unemployable by anyone else) but this “binding” opinion was contested, partially accepted but then disregarded
  • I have made a formal complaint to the Victorian Ombudsman’s office – they can’t help with the past glaring inconsistencies but might be able to help should the insurer refuses to abide by the opinion of MP4

Confusing enough?

I know, you have probably become lost when trying to understand the above, but let me assure you that there’s an abundance of ordure here!

But it gets even worse. The letter from the Convenor of Medical Panels that included MP2 (the one that certifies I have 0% impairment and it’s permanent!!!) was sent and signed by its Deputy Convenor, Professor Gibbons.

I was curious to know more about him and his qualifications, especially when it comes to expertise in matters of chronic pain and pudendal neuralgia.

He is a board certified medical practitioner and osteopath in Australia, holds postgraduate qualifications in musculoskeletal medicine and is Deputy Convenor of Medical Panels. Professor Gibbons has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals, is a co-author of Manipulation of the Spine, Thorax and Pelvis: An Osteopathic Perspective and a founding director of the Spinal Manipulation Education Group. He has presented research and spinal manipulation workshops nationally and internationally, and currently lectures in the subject area of High Velocity Low Amplitude (HVLA) thrust techniques (which sounded hair-raising to me when I researched the subject).

Summarising

Here is the time line for this whole process; 45 days (insurer to respond to application) + 28 days (for Worksafe to respond to complaint) + another 28 days until the Medical Panel appointment was made + up to 67 days for the Medical Panel to make its decision. You wouldn’t want to be unwell and unable to work over this length of time.

Perhaps what has been dished out to me isn’t best described as a dog’s breakfast. I might have been more accurate in my description the first time I attempted to do so – it is simply a very costly circus.  I will give you only one guess as to who’s paying for the show?

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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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