Workcover independent medical examinations: a horrid experience

preparing-for-independent-mdeical-examination

Yesterday, we received an anonymous email (via our share a story page) from an injured worker who has experienced a horrible independent medical examination at the hands of a Victorian doctor Chris Baker, an Occupational Physician. This horrid appointment -as s/he rightly calls it has- unfortunately stayed with him/her for years.

Workcover independent medical examinations: a horrid experience

This is part of a letter of complaint the anonymous injured worker sent to my his/her case manager after an assessment with Dr Chris Baker:

I would also like to inform you of my disapproval of the following in regard to Dr Chris Baker’s appointment and capacity report:
  • Being consulted from behind a screen that could easily have been moved. I had to lie down for the majority of the appointment as I was in a great deal of pain. Dr Baker didn’t mind me resting obviously but didn’t feel the need to look at me while he asked his questions. I find this very unprofessional and incredibly demoralising and uncomfortable and have never come across such treatment with any practitioner. Dr Baker sat behind his desk and only saw me when he had to examine me and I had to stand up. [WTF!!!]
  • Questions that Dr Chris Baker chose to ask such as: How long have I been married, how successful was our (my other half and my) business, did we have regular clientele, did I have any other source of income and how did I see myself earning an income in the future? I don’t feel these questions were necessary nor relevant to assessing my ‘work history’ or my capacity. No other Occupational Physician has asked me these questions before.
  • Not being given enough time to answer questions and being rushed and cut off in mid sentence. I feel this clearly did not allow Dr Baker to get a full understanding of my issue. I feel it impossible that Dr Baker, no matter how much experience, can assess my condition of 25 months during such a short and abrupt appointment.

Clearly one of his ideas of distributing leaflets indicates he did not understand or listen to me and that he is not very perceptive, even after peering into my bag. And though Dr Baker asked ‘did you put on your Sunday best for me?‘, after he saw me struggle to get my shoes on, it wasn’t enough attention for him to see the inability to carry many personal items. I am not quite sure how he thinks I may be able to push a trolley with weight, bend down and up or carry this weight.

This horrid appointment has stayed with me for years. How can this be allowed?

 

We thank “Anonymous” from the cockles of our heart for having the courage to share this horrible story 😉

It  is very well known that some IMEs (independent medical examiners) have a reputation for being pro WorkCover; that is, they are more likely to provide a report that is favourable to the claims manager’s interests and hence detrimental to the injured workers. 

These include independent medical examiners, such as Dr Chris Baker, who are engaging in unorthodox practices, designed to intimidate injured workers and who are also known as HIRED GUNS.

Yesterday Atlas Legal Au also gave us a very useful commentary about bullying and harassment and also about keeping ‘evidence’:

if you are called into a meeting about your complaint, its investigation, or work performance as a result of you lodging a complaint about harassment and bullying you are entitled to electronically record any such conversation so long as the other side is aware that you will be recording the conversation.  The same goes with Doctors and or specialists.  Time and again, insurance company doctors and specialists treat injured workers with disdain and contempt. If you wish to do so you should be allowed to electronically record everything that is said in your consultation with that Doctor.  That is the most accurate way to keep a record of what was said during the consultation as well as a way to make sure that the Doctor remains professional and courteous during your consultation….. Read more

Experienced something similar? Share your story! The people need to know. Help us uncover the real workcover system!
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eek
Guest
Andrew Smith
Guest

I am seeing Dr Chris Baker tomorrow.
Thanks for to warning. I’ve had a very similar experience before.

Me
Guest

Dodgy doctors must be exposed.

If you have been sent to a so-called Independent Medical Examination by your insurer you can bet your bottom dollar that they are on the “special” list of doctors that insurers love to use.

Always take a support person with you and immediately seek legal or union advice if you are referred to one of the Scheme Agent or insurer’s quacks.

r
Guest
  I am so angry after reading this yesterday, I had to read this many times as I could not believe what I was reading. As this IME Occupational Physician and also a Medical Panel doctor, did an interview with the Sunday Age. This is part of her interview “it can be wearing dealing with people who do nothing but complain all day” “You’re not necessarily seeing people at their best; they can be dirty, they can be smelly, unkempt and unco-operative. You have to be very tolerant, because you come across people from all walks of life.”  We are… Read more »
workcovervictim3
Guest

Thank you “R” – we really appreciate your supported view in this rather disgusting matter. It does really show how certain IMEs operate – talking about adding INSULT to injury. Many are indeed trained in the art of INTIMIDATION, and don’t get us wrong, many lawsuit threatening “IME’ are also supposedly “well qualified” “shrinks”?  Wow?! We do wonder whether it is the workcover insurer (the hand that feeds ’em) that pays for their uneducated lawyer letters… mmmh…?

This one
Guest

Just do a search for Dr Lawrence Dominic Terace.

Flown from his home base in Perth across the breadth of Australia, always happy to do the dirty work of insurance companies.

None
Guest

Reasonable is what is in the guidelines.

Sure
Guest

Sure it SHOULD be per the guideline and the ACT – however, as Soula writes here, it is just outrageous that she would have to fight to have the treatment (device – implant) paid for/reimbursed by going to  the Federal Court at her expense! Even if she wins, she’ll lose because of the legal costs and the insurance knows that and abuses such situations. It’s just plain fraud, it’s criminal.

Tip
Guest
There are many treatments for which injured workers have to be assessed. For example surgery or  the implanting of a spinal column stimulator.  So our insurance companies send us to the famous “independent doctor” for the assessment. But who assesses for these things? Can such screening be done by IMEs hired and paid by insurance companies? Can you objectively assess for something from which you will make money? Can you hire someone to perform the assessment when you are the source of their income, and then ask them to objectively deny a procedure from which you (and indirectly they) make… Read more »
workcovervictim
Guest

Good point!

soula
Guest
in regard to the stimulation device, i have one! i couldn’t wait for the pain relief, i know it would have taken my insurer around a year to approve so i went through my private health insurer. my point is, even after i had it implanted and was able to report and show a difference in my pain levels, it still wasn’t reimbursed. this issue got to two conciliators: conciliator 1 (unprofessional) actually asked me how an implant can help my psychological condition (whilst holding my all clear psych reports and my neurosurgeon’s reports of improvement), the other conciliator (professional… Read more »
workcovervictim
Guest

They are also extremely proficient at doctor shopping – they will send injured workers to IME after IME until such a time some corrupt dickhead states something in Allianz/Xchanging’s favour and then — USE that. Even if you have 5 + reports and 1 -, they will use the one negative. It is fully sick.

Read: http://workcovervictimsdiary.com/2011/10/dont-become-the-victim-of-a-workcover-insurer-doctor-shopping/

 

None
Guest

In NSW insurers are not allowed to doctor shop. An injured worker can only be sent to an IME in very specific circumstances — it’s written into the mandatory guidelines.

Links to NSW information:

http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/medicalhealthcare/Medicalpractitioners/Independentmedicalexaminer/Pages/default.aspx
http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/formspublications/publications/Pages/independantmedicalexamintationsreports.aspx (PDF)

workcovervictim
Guest

Same in Victoria – there are set guidelines as per the online claims manual, and yet nobody enforces these guidelines, not even WorkSafe!

An example: it says in there that they can only send you to an IME when they are not able to get the necessary information from your own doctor/specialist…. DUH?

None
Guest

Then you should not attend an IME appointment that has not been made in accordance with the guidelines.

My union has phoned the insurer every time and had such inappropriate appointments cancelled. The insurer knows it is acting illegally but tries it on. The questions were then put to my own doctor.

workcovervictim
Guest
I have managed to cancel one such inappropriate IME through my solicitors. Bloody oath they try it on every time. Last time I had to attend an IME I received less than 48 hours notice and asked if I could reschedule as I was to undergo major and painful tests the day before – the case manager wrote back stating that if I did not attend my benefits would be instantly terminated based on “noncooperation” WTF! She also wrote that under the Act you have to attend an IME… and guess what the Act is also rather vague as it… Read more »
anonymous
Guest
dear injured, thank you for listing [name censored] i saw her and she’s seriously not right. i spent the whole appointment wondering who should really be on the other side of her fancy lecturn (must make her feel important). i spent my whole appointment telling her about a great new treatment i’ve found that no one in ‘the system’ is acknowledging and in the end she starts to right on her sticky note about a treatment she’s heard about. i interrupted her writing by asking her if she was talking about ‘noi’ group and their wonderful research? she surprisingly answered,… Read more »
workcovervictim3
Guest
Interesting – I am also with Xchanging (case manager goes by the first name of S) and was also sent to Dr [Censored]. What an utterly miserable woman indeed. My injury is physical, then I got sacked at work, then got suicidal and was on psych treatment. I was sent to her 3 MONTHS after I had been sent to another IME psych (who was OK) and had written me off purely on depression lone. This Doctor was sitting behind a “chalk board” making notes, barely looking at me. When I arrived there I sat down and gently “slid” copies… Read more »
None
Guest

It seems to me that Xchanging, like Allianz, is out of control. Together they must be the most unscrupulous insurers in Australia.

workcovervictim3
Guest
I could not agree more – Allianz and Xchanging should NOT be ALLOWED to carry workcover insurance on behalf of WorkSafe and our government. Enough is enough – one has to draw the line somewhere. Xchanging also has the filthy HABIT of discrediting the best and most renowned surgeons of Australia (even via personal telephone call!). For example: my surgeon prescribed/recommended X. He is the BEST Australian surgeon in a particular injury field. The case manager phoned him and personally insulted his prescription (he told me). Then I get a letter from the case manager telling me they had “spoken… Read more »
None
Guest

Yep, like Allianz, they merely extract any word from any past report and somehow make it relevant. Of course, it is only relevant in the delusion mind of the case manager, team leader and technical specialist, who are together working hard to get that team bonus using the blood of the injured worker.

Do you know of any unscrupulous insurance company employees? Tell your story here.

loki
Guest

Well, that’s just great. I’ve just been notified by CGU that I have an appt with Wendy Triggs at the beginning of May, because my original IME (who was very supportive) was not available until June.

So now what do I do 🙁

 

Hired gun
Guest

This hired gun – [censored]

Meep meep
Guest
Firstly, I congratulate you for posting that information, but some tips to protect you: 1. When posting that type of information here or on Pastebin (also suggest http://www.pastebay.net) it is _very_ important that you use an anonymising service. The best out there is https://torproject.org You can run this from a USB drive and it will leave no trace of what you browsed on your PC. Importantly, it will encrypt your browsing session and send it via other connections located elsewhere in the world. That way even law enforcement can’t see your connection’s IP address. 2. Even with the use of… Read more »
workcovervictim
Guest
@Loki: we noticed that the rateanmd as removed this doctor from its website – it certainly was there a few weeks ago – shows you to what length perhaps Dr censored is going… Yes, you can take a support person along although most psych IME will prefer to interview you alone – just insist that your support person is present as a witness. You doctor may not be able to help you out here (but you can ask) however YOU can ask your insurer for a different IME – just say that for example there is “a conflict of interest”… Read more »
injured
Guest
I know exactly what you mean by being too abused and too stressed to deal with such a crap – I have also experienced a most inappropriate IME psychiatry by a doctor [name censored]- a real bitch, obviously in need to keep her practice afloat by doing IMEs as not a patient was to be seen in the rooms. This doctor has no regards whatsoever for my physical injury, and maybe no understanding of medical terms. I had been certified unfit by my treaters AND an IME ortho surgeon a week or two before this appointment – as I had… Read more »
anonymous
Guest
thanks for the replies. I’m usually prepared before all ime’s with my own reports and paperwork but while in the waiting room my appointment was switched from Dr Mutton to Dr Baker and I couldn’t do anything about it. Mistake on the insurer’s behalf or on purpose? Dr Baker also suggested I could apply for a ‘meter reader’. I argued my points, even forwarding a current ‘meter reading’ job application that was advertised to my case manager but my payments were still terminated and I had to go to conciliation. I’d say Dr Baker is on their ‘excellent practitioner’ list… Read more »
None
Guest

Your appointment was with a particular doctor, not with a particular medical practice.

I would argue that the IME isn’t even valid.

anonymous
Guest

dear none,

argue to who? please excuse my sarcastic humour, my coping strategies seem to switch to a delirium sometimes and i make ‘funnies’.

who’s going to accept a Worksafe IME isn’t valid?

sigh.

None
Guest

If an IME was not conducted in accordance with the guidelines then by definition it isn’t valid.

It isn’t valid just because the insurer asserts it is!

anonymous
Guest

Valid or not, my payments were suspended and I had to attend conciliation to get them back. I was doomed either way. I reached my 130 week mark. I don’t think there’s any way of getting out of that suspension.

workcovervictim
Guest
It is also important to try to have medical reports corrected! Your case manager couldn’t care less and was probably delighted with the report – especially the “distribute leaflets-fitness” part. He/she will definitely NOT write a complaint to the IME or to the medical board re his behaviour, on the contrary, he/she will flag this IME as a “great one”! It is recommended that you write directly to the IME (upon receipt of a copy of such a report) and to have such matters raised and corrected, if possible. That way YOU have evidence that you do NOT agree with… Read more »
Report him
Guest

This doctor should be reported to the relevant medical board so that his unprofessional conduct can be investigated.

Also, it appears that he has asked non-medical questions, probably at the behest of the insurer. This should also be a part of any complaint made about this hired gun.