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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

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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

No Partridge in a Pear Tree to be Found, I’m Preparing for Conciliation… Again!

Author:

(Sing with me, to the tune of ‘The 12 Days of Christmas”:

16 points of stimulation,
Multiple case managers,
Too many Independent* Medical Examinations,
Nine anaesthetics,
Several investigations,
Wasted complaints to WorkSafe,
Four conciliation applications,
Three operations,
Two Medical Panel Opinions,
One Impairment Assessment,
and,
No Partridge in a Pear Tree to be found…

AND, still, no financial support. AND, still, no understanding of my Workers Compensation case.

My application for part payments has been rejected on the grounds that the Worksafe Agent feels I have more capacity and has gathered that opinion from my advocacy efforts, the maintenance of this website, and my art projects. So, I’m off to conciliation once again to explain what should be obvious, or rather could be explained with a phone call. But you’re not going to get that kind of service or understanding within our WorkCover system. It’s nothing but doubt and a point of the finger, turning real facts into incorrect assumptions which ultimately block all healing and return to work pathways for an honest injured worker.

Damned if I’m going to keep my mouth shut, or my return to work efforts contained. To be honest, the system is giving me nothing to lose here and every excuse to keep exposing it and its limitations. I want to get back to work and I will use any talent I have to get there, I’m a self employer. Even if that means more conciliation conferences and withstanding 15 months without a single cent. There are other injured workers to think about here too, this isn’t just about me. Continue Reading

Pain sucks for injured workers

Author:
Quintner-Dr-John Apr12

Surfing the many ‘pain’ forums you eventually get to ‘cyber’ know the regular contributors. One of my favorites to bump into is the highly accredited and regarded, John Quintner. I give full attention too John, he is a great support for me (and to the world of pain). Regular readers of my blog might remember his previously posted paper ‘John Qunitner’s point of view‘ and may have also seen some of John’s great comments, in particular where I vent my frustrations with WorkCover.

But this post isn’t about me, it certainly interests me as it refers to assessments within the WorkCover system. Although John speaks for WA this does also apply for Victorian injured workers. I’m happy to be able to post this on my blog, although flattened and left without acknowledgement with my personal WorkCover impairment. I still hold hope our out-of-date system will be updated someday and it will be opinions such as these that will instigate that change. Future injured workers should be grateful for them.

If you haven’t come across John Quintner then my advice would be to google his name, he has some great opinions to share about chronic pain.

Written by Dr John Quintner
Monday, 01 July 2013

Dr John Quintner. Consultant Physician in Rheumatology and Pain Medicine

Mr Chris White, CEO, WorkCover WA (WA compo compares favourably, June 2013) rightly calls for factual information to support any suggestions as to how the scheme he administers could be improved.

In so doing, he has sidestepped the call for reform of the system made by pain specialists Drs John Salmon and Stephanie Davies (Management of WA’s work injured needs reform, May 2013).

Does WorkCover have a case to answer or are these experienced pain specialists making a big fuss about nothing? Well, let’s look at some facts.

In the WorkCover WA Guides for the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (3rd edition, 2010), we read that because there is currently no validated measurement tool for the assessment of pain, WA has followed the NSW WorkCover Guides by excluding Chapter 18 (The Assessment of Pain) of the AMA(US) Guides V.

Without providing any factual evidence to bolster its position, WorkCover WA claims that pain has already been factored into the impairment ratings for demonstrable work-related conditions.

If that were indeed the case, extrapolating from this administrative decision, one might reasonably expect to find that the Guides being used in WA (and NSW) rely upon the use of validated measuring tools to determine the extent of bodily impairment.

But that is not the case: there are hardly any studies that would validate the assessment of physical impairment currently being used by WorkCover. [Davies, 2008]

This is doubly detrimental to the injured worker with ongoing pain and apparently little or no assessable impairment. Contrast this to the attempt to resolve the vexed question of psychiatric impairment.

Here, not only does WorkCover WA use ‘impairment’ as a surrogate term for ‘disability,” but also Approved Medical Specialists (AMS) are mandated to use the Psychiatric Impairment Rating Scale (PIRS), which was constructed by an expert group of NSW psychiatrists.

The PIRS comprises six subscales, each of which is said to delineate and evaluate discrete areas of functional impairment: self-care and personal hygiene; social and recreational activities; travel; social functioning (relationships); concentration; and employability.

Data on the reliability and validity of the PIRS has yet to be published by NSW WorkCover, although it did fund such a study in 2003. [Davies, 2008] Could it be that the results were inconclusive (or even worse than that)?

Furthermore, the final calculation of impairment rating using the PIRS is skewed towards the lower scores, thus reducing the overall amount of compensation paid. [Davies, 2008]

But at least workers with psychiatric impairment/disability are afforded a mechanism of sorts for assessing their entitlements. Why are workers with chronic and disabling pain being denied the same opportunity? Continue Reading

The Scheme Project

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The Scheme Project

I met with Kris Vanston yesterday after making my pledge to The Scheme Project last week and an exchange of some cyber chit-chat. We realised we had something in common, we want to better the Australian WorkCover system.

What is The Scheme?

(Sound file and excerpt from www.thescheme.com.au)

The Scheme Thumb
We’ve all heard the sensationalist news reports, however the true statistics behind injured workers are alarming; less than 0.5% of injured workers are the ‘fraudsters’ you might see on TV (Victorian Ombudsman’s report 2011), yet most injured workers are spied on by private detectives (yes, really), they’re made out to be guilty until proven innocent, each year costing taxpayers over $14 million in Victoria alone. It seems everyone involved in the system is growing tired of it’s inefficiencies, ultimately though, it’s the injured workers that gets left behind. Insurance companies are delaying and denying claims that should be processed because they can make a profit from it. Recently, CGU (one of WorkCover’s insurers), had locked up over 10,000 files in a hidden cupboard and manipulated invoices which made the company $2.5 million in profits. Now you have to ask yourself. How much more of this behaviour is not being reported? How much information is so incriminating to bodies such as WorkSafe or insurance companies, that they are willing to pay to suppress it? We are here to find out! Sign our Petition below and have your voice heard! We thank you for your continued much needed support. Continue Reading

Subject: Fair Assessment for Compensation?

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For those subscribed to this Fair Assessment For Compensation post, I have had a reply and it is posted here!

AN OPEN LETTER TO WORKSAFE AUSTRALIA

(CC’d The Hon Gordon Rich-Philips)

SUBJECT: FAIR ASSESSMENT FOR COMPENSATION?

My name is Soula Mantalvanos and I am an injured Australian worker ever since an unfortunate incident in March 2006 where the fitball I was sitting on burst and I fell on to concrete. I was diagnosed after 4.5 years, with a painful condition that is often misunderstood; it is Pudendal Neuralgia (specifically Pelvic Chronic Pain).

MedicalPanels

Obviously you will be able to imagine the difficulties I have had in the WorkCover system with such an injury. Six years down the track, at the age of 43, I am left without weekly payments and an impairment score of 0%. I seriously question whether I’ve ever been assessed fairly.

In the Preamble of the National Workers’ Compensation Action Plan 2010-2013, a paragraph (b) recommends providing “fair” compensation for work-related injury, illness and death. As far as I can ascertain, “fair” means “marked by impartiality and honesty, as well as free from self-interest, prejudice, or favouritism.” Does this definition coincide with that intended by WorkSafe Australia? Continue Reading

Performance ‘fit for modified duties’

Author:

Did you all hear I’m back at work part time? Much thanks to our flexible home/office setup and Theo’s immense help. Regardless, how lucky am I hey? But oops, hang on, I have to correct myself. It’s not lucky for me, it’s lucky for the WorkSafe Agent. And I must clarify because from their point of view I didn’t get myself back to work, it had nothing to do with my research, the practitioners I found, their treatment and great therapies (or my hip pocket!). Nope, nothing to do with nerve blocks and medication, but rather, my high activity levels. Yeeees, I have been a full time artist and I’ve been caught red-handed!!!

Excited as I was to finally be seen as ‘fit for modified duties’, I was looking forward to receiving the WorkSafe Agent’s promised ‘dispatch’ mail. I expected to see copies of my new job description, Doctor’s capacity report and a letter explaining I would no longer be entitled to weekly benefits. What also came though, was a ruthless bundle of papers including video and photographic surveillance from February this year, that although amounted to a bunch of thin air, somehow became the reason I was ‘fit for modified duties’. I knew where this was going… Continue Reading

John Quintner’s point of view

Author:

I’m forever searching for a decent explanation as to why the AMA Guidelines used to assess injured workers in the WorkCover system are so poor and out of date, especially when it comes to assessing chronic pain (and in my case of pudendal neuralgia measures a total score of 0!!).

Along my social media travels, searching for answers and researching for treatment or updated information regarding my condition, I have met John and had the pleasure of some great discussions. Dr John Quintner is a consultant physician in rheumatology and pain medicine and has kindly offered to share his published opinion on the matter. Thanks John!

Here’s an excerpt, or download the full pdf document. Continue Reading

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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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