Injured workers medical practitioners ought to stand & speak up

You won’t believe it, but during the sheer stress and grief of having my site under DoS attack, I also faced ongoing “denial of service” – basic medical care – from Xchanging and my perceived adversarial case manager. On this occasion they denied me physiotherapy treatment, notwithstanding I suffer from an end stage shoulder which requires a joint replacement. As usual- and despite hundreds of medical reports- “additional information” was requested by my case manager to justify why physio would be “reasonable”. I obviously asked my treating GP to respond to this [outrageous] demand and, to my delight, he formulated an interesting response to my case manager. Injured workers doctors ought to follow his example and speak and stand up against the ill treatment of their injured patients by workcover agents!

Injured workers medical practitioners ought to stand & speak up against ill treatment of their injured patients by workcover agents

The workcover insurance companies are a for-profit business and all and any”benefits” are routinely denied, even to those severely injured workers who are in desperate need. They are trained in the art of bullying, intimidation and denial and will make all injured workers fight for their meager “entitlements”.

The most frightening part is that case manager’s medical knowledge is very limited to non-existent but they can make sweeping decisions that have major impact on the injured worker!

The stance of today’s Case Manager (hell- why I am even bothering to use capital letters here!)  has been termed “adversarial help“, with priorities of simple cost containment set by department heads and supervisors. Not to mention the carrot on the stick – $$$ bonuses for achieving certain KPIs of course!

Letter to my Xchanging case manager written by my treating general practitioner

[Click on the image to enlarge]


Isn’t it true that if a workcover insurer (i.e. Xchanging) wants to be in the business/provision of health care to injured workers, then a more CARING attitude needs to be adopted rather than the present adversarial policy?!

Treatment of injured workers by workcover agents

Medical (and like) treatment are routinely delayed or denied away. The longer the money stays in the insurers’ pocket [and investment portfolio], the more desperate the injured workers situation becomes.

And, what’s worse, our workcover system, supposedly to protect injured workers, continues to erode away injured workers rights and benefits, without anyone noticing – except of course the employers and the workcover insurers that have brought about these changes and who profit from it insanely. Look at what’s happening in NSW!

“Starving them (injured workers) out” is the key motto  and modus operandi used by workcover insurers.

Not only is workcover [the workers compensation system]  not there to help, except to help stuff the deep and overflowing pockets of their workcover insurance agents, but it also routinely adds to the enormous burden to be faced by injured workers. It forces a BATTLE for medical (and like) treatment and for general weekly pay, of the very SURVIVAL of the injured worker – and at the same time that it accuses us (injured workers) of faking, exaggerating and malingering it, even the deceased worker of causing it (his/her own death).

What on earth has happened to our good ol’ Australia? A country that now allows workcover, corporation and insurers to literally throw away the lives, and the health of so many injured workers, without caring, and without fear of being exposed or being held accountable? Well, it’s called workers compensation – but I prefer the term workcover terrorism – the very system we thought was there to protect us if we were injured at work.

Workcover case managers and dirty tricks

The (medically untrained) WorkCover case manager

  • Never have to answer the phone – voice mail only
  • Do not return calls – no expiry date either
  • Assume no continuity of care – it appears some insurers change their case managers like underwear
  • Deny petty things like physio a neck pillow, 30 min massage, home help- for what? Don’t they realize how fu**ing demoralizing that is?
  • Can be late with payments without reason. Then don’t answer calls…
  • Order potentially painful Functional Capacity and other repeated”Assessments”  without good reason
  • Order “vocation assessments” when you haven’t slept for a week, can’t see straight from the pain and are actually thinking that you may be best off dead
  • Always infer that you can be cut off at any time
  • Make promises – sometimes in writing- then change their minds
  • Cut people off to see what happens
Workcover insurance case managers will use any means necessary to pay out as little as possible, even on legitimate claims that involve serious injuries.

Workcover insurance case managers receive extensive training on how to save the insurance company money, and not necessarily on how to examine a claim and pay a fair settlement.

Many workcover insurance companies reward their case managers and claims managers with bonuses or promotions based on how much money that person saves the company rather than how many claims are resolved.

The claims manager/case manager accomplishes this in many ways:
  • Using Delay tactics: The case manager is a master of using delay tactics to wear people down. He knows that many people will at some point throw up their hands and say “enough!” and finally accept the workcover insurance company’s last offer just to be over and done with the whole stressful process.
  • Requesting Unnecessary Information: Another method is when the case manager makes repeated requests for “documentation” even if the information will have little or no bearing on benefit to be approved service or the amount that will be offered in “settlement”. Repeated requests for unnecessary documentation can easily frustrate people and wear them down so they’re more likely to accept a lower benefit or settlement offer.
  • Disputing the Medical Treatment: Another way the case manager will try to minimise your claim is to dispute or question your need for medical treatment, despite having no medical training! (and even if the treatment is prescribed by their own doctor!). Often it does not matter to the case manager that your treatment has been recommended by a reputable  physician or specialist. A “triple play” is very common with doctors’ requests for medical tests such as MRIs. The insurance case manager delays response to the doctors office’s request for approval, then requests “documentation from the doctor” and then the case manager says the MRI is not necessary. Six months later, you finally get the MRI and the correct treatment. What has the delay cost you? A slow medical recovery, lots of pain, financial stress and possibly the loss of your job!
  • Failing to Advise an Injured Worker of All His Benefits or Any of his Obligations. The case manager doesn’t have to tell you that certain types of benefits even exist! I have never known in my 7 years on workcover  a case manager to freely give this information. What is worse than not getting “fully made whole” is to lose your benefits altogether, i.e. because of time limits!
  • Acting as Your Friend. There are times when the case manager from hell will try to “befriend” you and make it appear that she is watching out for your interests when in fact she is not. Sometime the case manager will give you advice about the type or frequency of your medical treatment, and then decide later on not to pay for the treatment because it is “excessive.” The worst is directing you to change physicians to a “company doctor.” (i.e. a doctor who is more easily persuaded to state nothing is wrong with you and certify you fit for work.)
  • Making False Promises. There are times when the case manager will make promises to you that he or she knows can’t be met. For example, I know of a fellow workcover victim who was promised that the workcover  insurance company would pay for her to go to TAFE course. This went on for months until the injured worker was resigning her light duty position and retiring to attend the full time TAFE courses. The problem was that the injured worker didn’t find out about the insurance company’s decision  not to pay for the classes until she had resigned!

All this can have a devastating effect on someone who is severely injured and lives with chronic pain.

This jerking-around can be one of the ultimate forms of social rejection. Not only do injured people feel the pain of their mistreatment, they are now having to look at the future in a new light – one of victimisation and ongoing dread.


[Post dictated]


3 Responses to “Injured workers medical practitioners ought to stand & speak up”

  1. xchanging seem to be very good in the art of avoidence and victimisation.  I am waiting for weekly payment again!!< this time they are 3 weeks behind, i have e-mailed and requested payment, advised them that i have had to cancel a medical app. as we live in country victoria and the doctors visits are 100km round trip.  i have no money and i am maintaining a parttime job, 16 hours a week to which workcover have to top up to my pre injury payment.  to do this ptime work i travel, 350km each week, and now they are delaying any top up,  Because i complained about waiting, i then get a letter saying i have to attend a IME , some 800km away!!!! or i will be cut off!!, i seriously do not know what to do?? i am on workcover due to bullying which was proven by their investigators over a long period of time and now my condition is being worsened as i am being bullied yet again, anyone know of any ideas that may help>>> thanks

  2. Such a good wrap up of all the nasty tactics used by our so-called case managers. It’s a kind of torture that is enabled both by anti-worker law and by failure to uphold laws which would protect workers. The insurance agents are allowed to engage in and spread these anti-worker behaviours by every other part of the Workover systems. No one has the right to suggest an injured worker change their treating practitioner. Many of us have kept our same doctors for years – we do this because we have built up respect and trust for them, and because continuity of treatment ensures a faster and more appropriate recovery.

  3. If only others who are in title representatives for workers rights took the stance your NTD has then maybe things could be a little different retrospectively speaking.

    Once again Mr David Shoebridge is picking up the ball and running with it. A few weeks ago he raised a motion in NSW Parliament today he is moving the motion forward.

    Please read details below.

    791. Mr Shoebridge to move—
    1. That this Houses notes that New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell on ABC 702 on
    Wednesday 20 June misled listeners as to the retrospectivity of his government’s amendments to
    the workers compensation scheme.
    2. That this House condemn the New South Wales Premier for deliberately misleading the public,
    or at the very least being culpably ignorant in failing to understand his own legislation.
    (Notice given 20 June 2012—expires Notice Paper No. 113)

    In relation to Mr Shoebridge he is the only person to respond about what has happened to this site over the last few days. I have sent messages/emails to both state & federal MP’s and also a WC board member but I get the feeling they are deleted as quick as I can send them..