In a recent case, a Judge slammed the Victorian WorkCover Authority’s conduct about doctor shopping -that is using public monies to obtain unnecessary multiple medical reports from independent medical examiners in the hope to find one that will say what they’re after.
WorkCover (Victoria) appeared to have gone “doctor shopping” in the case of a worker claiming compensation for a spinal injury, a judge says.
In a recent judgment, County Court Judge John Bowman said the Victorian WorkCover Authority had had three neurosurgeons examine a man who suffered a back injury at work.
The state of Victoria and its agencies are required to behave in legal proceedings as “model litigants”.
Judge Bowman said: “It is not the role of a model litigant to continue to expend public monies pursuing medical reports from additional experts in the face of opinions adverse to it from experts already consulted, in the hope that, sooner or later, someone will say something which gives it some comfort.
“If the ‘neurosurgeon’ shopping reflected a win-at-all-costs approach, that would be disappointing.
“It may be that there is some other explanation for what occurred, but it has an unfortunate appearance.”
Judge Bowman granted Steven Bates, 44, leave to sue for damages.
The judge said that despite accepting liability, and the overwhelming weight of medical evidence, the VWA had contested the cause of Mr Bates’ condition.
Maurice Blackburn’s Kim Shaw said Mr Bates had been subjected to unnecessary examinations so the VWA could get the medical opinion it wanted.
“The VWA had no support . . . for opposing Steven’s case and wasted public money,” Ms Shaw said.
WorkSafe’s Michael Birt said the authority was examining the judgment.
The court heard Mr Bates, who was wearing a safety harness, fell backward on to a pallet while standing on the pallet platform of a stock picker at Crosby Tiles. He was manually moving boxes from a pallet resting on the stock picker’s tines.
In the months after the May 10, 2006 accident, he developed numbness and weakness in both legs and increasing unsteadiness.
After the removal of a cyst compressing his spinal cord, damage to the cord was discovered, the court heard.
One neurologist opined that a cyst could be acquired as a result of spinal trauma, and believed it was a result of his back injury.
Other neurosurgeons and an orthopaedic surgeon believed the injury had aggravated an existing cyst.
Judge Bowman said it was probable the cyst had existed before the accident.
“What is clear is that such a traumatic event led to the exacerbation and deterioration of the condition, if it was pre-existing, with resultant development of spinal cord compression and damage.”
Thanks God, the Judge slams Victorian WorkCover Authority’s conduct!
[Source: Herald Sun]What if we, the workcover victims went doctor shopping like that? GP after GP, specialist after specialist until WE got the ANSWER we WANTED? Until we got all the benefits and treatment we wanted and much more? What would workcover think about that. Huh?!
As I mentioned in a previous post or two, my case manager has sent me to no less than six (6) IME’s over a period of 14 months!!! It was so obvious that she was extremely desperate to ‘find a way out’ and to obtain the answer she wanted. Unfortunately for her, she got herself burnt even more, for some of the IME reports revealed an even worse injury and suggested I may NEVER be able to return to the workforce all together. So how can you justify the spending of what, around $5000 on medical reports in the hope to save perhaps $200 on something like physio or psychology or a taxi fare here and there!
The other thing that I have noticed is that if and when the workcover agent sends you to for example two (2) different IME, let’s say for assessment for taxi transport, and those IME reports both strongly support taxi travel, but then, a few weeks later they receive a letter from one of your own treaters, like a physio or chiro whom you haven’t seen for yonks cos they cut that ‘benefit’ off ages ago, and he/she says that you don’t really need taxi travel, they will revert to your treater’s letter as “evidence”!!! This is just unbelievable and is, indeed, nothing else but doctor shopping.
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