The abuses of injured workers under workcover are rampant. As we have stated on several occasions, the most common “themes” we see and hear from injured workers are the delays, denial of needed medical treatment; the inadequate, inappropriate, forced and hasty “return to work” plans; the many inappropriate, cursory and frankly biased “independent” medical “opinions”; and the frankly inhumane treatment of injured workers by “the system”. “C”s story -again- summarises what you are faced with when you get injured at work, through no fault of your own.
Injured worker shares “classic” workcover nightmare
Thought I’d share my story of my workcover nightmare.
I worked at an auto parts store for [many] years, and was responsible for sales, managing staff and stock control. We had one customer that spent a lot money with buying under body car parts. These parts he was ordering were delivered to our store first and then loaded via our driver and myself most of the time.
The roller door at the rear of the store was driven via a chain, and was very hard to lift. Due to the door being bent and the channels also. I had to lift this door on average about 4-5 times a day. We were not allowed to keep this door open due to security reasons.I asked repeatedly for a motor driven door, which was denied of course, the manager of the store also tried several times as well.
On [year/date] I was lifting the door up and heard a click comes from both my arms. I experienced pain straight away, but keep working with the help of some pain cream. Filled out the appropriate forms and what have you. [A month later, The] pain got worse took 2 weeks off. [Two months later] I had cortisone shots in both arms, and that relieved the pain in my left arm, but not fully in my right. I basically become left handed, because if I tried to use my right arm it would flare up again.
Around [5 months later] I was at work and I felt severe pain in my left elbow. I was typing on the computer at the time, it felt like someone had belted me on the elbow with a 4×2 piece of wood. So I went home and saw my GP and was put on medication ie. pain killers. anti inflammatories. The pain just would not go away, even with physio, tablets, massage and so forth. I entered a tennis elbow trial of my own bat at [name] Sports Centre, they found several tears in my left common extensor tendon in [a month later].
Unfortunately the trial was not successful. I also developed right shoulder pain also around [1 month after that]. After repeated attempts in asking my doctors for scans for my shoulder and neck also, they said that won’t show anything up because you have Chronic Pain Syndrome.
I was off work [for months] were I was basically forced to go back to work, because of an appointed occupational rehabilitation provider from my worksafe agent. This lady was like a pitbull, and constantly was trying to get me back to work even though I was in pain.
I had to get my lawyer to ring her and tell her to back off. She bullied my pain specialist into sending me back to work, I lasted two days. My doctor later told me that he had sent me back to work to get this lady off my back..not that it worked. It’s fair to say I no longer see this doctor any more.
This workcover thing was doing my head in, between the way that work treated me when it happened and there after.
No wonder I was stressed out and put on anti-depressants.
Also the case managers who were rude, hardly ever return my calls or emails and rejecting treatment that I wanted to get in order to get back to work and to get better of course. Went to claim for my shoulders and of course they rejected it. And this was because of an IME doctor that said it was all in my head and he wasn’t even a psychologist..funny that.
So off to conciliation I went, nothing was settled at conciliation because I was waiting on medical reports, which the agent rejected from my doctors anyway.
Next step “Medical Panel” more stress. Got the certificate of opinion back, not good news one step forward 10 steps back again.
My heart nearly dropped out of my chest. What I found astounding that they couldn’t even get my occupation right, even though it was stated in other documents they were sent. Makes me wonder even if they read my doctors reports. And of course they left out some major details.
I swear to God I thought they may have me mixed up with another patient.
Scans on my left elbow tears weren’t mentioned in the report and tears in my shoulders also were left out. And to rub salt in the wound they agreed with the IME doctor that it was bilateral shoulder bursitis and that was normal in patients with no shoulder injury. Then how do they explain the tears in my shoulders. My doctors said it was from overuse of my arm when I had the tears in my left arm, which I pretty sure developed at work in the 5 months between Dec 20XX and May 20XX. So the medical panel performed there tests on me and said there was nothing wrong with my arms any more and I just have bursitis in my shoulders.
They must have xray vision or something, because those tears in my shoulder tendons and bursal must have vanished…now that’s what I call a miracle.
To this day I still cannot use my arms without getting severe pain. These doctors now say I have cervical spine dysfunction and that’s the cause of my pain now. They come to that conclusion just by me moving my neck, no scans required again.
So now I need to talk to my lawyer and hope it’s not bad news.
This experience has taken it’s toll on my wife who has had a break down, and my son who cannot play with his dad.
I haven’t had a decent nights sleep in two years, a year and a half to wait for treatment and then to be handed down this decision by the panel.
Where does this end… no wonder people commit suicide. I just want my life back to the way it was, and now I feel like that is not going to happen any time soon.
Thank you, “C” for sharing your nightmare, and, most importantly to help us prove that there is a systemic pattern of misconduct and abuse by the workcover system, which is unacceptable.
[post dictated by workcovervictim and manually inserted on behalf of workcovervictim]