Further to John McPhilbin’s article about the Cycle of Despair, the model that we all believe offers a fairly accurate representation of what many injured workers are forced to endure in the dysfunctional workers compensation system, I’d like to briefly resummarise an article we posted on our forum about what a medium to severe injured worker typically undergoes and how they are affected within the first year(s) after a workplace injury.
The first year after a medium to severe workplace injury
Within the first twelve months of injury you can expect that:
- The injured worker has become increasingly alienated from colleagues and the employer whom they now strongly feel has abandoned him/her
- The injured worker’s expectancy that their injury would be “short term medical care” has been quashed
- The injured worker’s “relationship” with the workcover case manager will increasingly become strained, compromised or untenable. By now most injured workers will have restraining orders against their case manager (ie.all contact via solicitor, all contact in writing only, no phone calls..)
- Many injured workers have by now seen multiple providers, sometimes with conflicting goals, and may now have incompatible diagnoses. Worst of all is the so called “doctor shopping” on the part of the workcover insurance to find any means possible to have an “alternative diagnosis” in the insurer’s favour (think “it’s in your head”, it’s “pre-existing”, “old age”, “wear and tear”, “there’s nothing wrong”)
- The injured worker has become concurrently irritable but also both passive and dependent. Some have become enraged. Some have become extremely depressed or a combination of all…
- The financial picture has become very bleak and is only worsening, adding to the desperate situation and let’s not forget the continued threats injured workers receive about further “cut offs” (i.e. denied home help, denied transport, medication “review”, delayed, denied MRI, scans, surgery, cut off physio, psychology services etc)
- Many injured workers have now become sedentary, de-conditioned and very unmotivated, let alone hopeless
- The injured worker spends increasing time sleeping, ruminating (about workcover) and perhaps things like over-eating..
- The injured worker has become focused and pre-occupied upon issues of rights and authorisation of care rather than issues of improvement – why? because of the retaliatory nature of workcover insurance! It’s a constant fight to obtain legit “entitlements”/”benefits”; conciliation after conciliation; frustration sets in; anger; and it’s really about basic human rights!
- Many injured workers have no clear career alternatives, conceived goals or direction… why? Again the way their “cases” are mismanaged by the insurer… dodgy IME’s, weird rehab service providers and vocational assessments dictated by case managers (see: http://aworkcovervictimsdiary.com/2011/10/voctional-assessment-suitable-jobs-you-could-be-a-funeral-director-scam/)
- The injured worker has become very conflicted as to where to invest trust and hope
The next year can be even more ominous, and available time will again be filled tracking medication, pursuing and fighting endless battles with the insurer to obtain the most basic, legitimate entitlements. The injured worker becomes even more focused and pre-occupied upon issues of rights and authorisation of (medcical) care.
At this stage it’s like the war is on. Workcover insurers will do anything to cut off legitimate entitlements such as physiotherapy and psychological counseling; and at a time where you need it the most. Constant harassment, bullying and intimation on the part of the insurer (i.e your case manager, the rehab service provider) will be the norm and will start making you feel mentally ill (think PTSD, depression) and many injured workers will loose what little trust they had left in the system. Tactics, scheming and virtually illegal scams will be used to force severely injured workers to return to work, even though your own treaters certified you unfit for all work; many injured workers will at this stage develop serious secondary psychological injuries such as major depression, anxiety, adjustment disorder, PTSD and even paranoia. Looking over your shoulders will become a reflex, you will feel like you are constantly being spied upon (surveillance), and many – like myself, will slowly retreat into their “shell”, become utterly numb and disconnect from the world.
And so the Cycle of Despair goes on…
With that in mind, you may need to know if you are feeling increasingly agitated, irritable, impatient and indecisive, napping more often and staring blankly at the television, this is “normal”. Because the workers compensation system makes you sick.
Consider that you can become markedly more depressed with the start of yet another year that we (seriously injured workers) interpret as empty and without change or direction….
Now, if you add to this medium to severely injured workers who, for example, also happen to suffer from established and diagnosed primary psychological injuries as well (i.e severe PTSD), it is a recipe for disaster.
Secondary psychological injuries quickly develop (especially without early medical and intensive intervention) and you are set to become what I call “a mess”; only to be repeatedly INJURED and TRAUMATIZED by the way you are being treated by the workers comp system in the first place.
[post dictated and entered by T on behalf of WCV]