In this sickening story an injured worker who was diagnosed with Chronic regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)/aka Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) following bilateral carpal tunnel surgery had her workcover claim suspended after attending a pain clinic, where the pain doctor basically did not even examine the injured worker but went on to write a report to workcover that s/he does not suffer from CRPS)/RSD.
Injured worker’s workcover cut off based on biased pain doctor’s report
The injured worker’s story
I suffered at work from ironing for about 4-5 hours a day , I was a private housekeeper for one couple, and I did everything from cleaning floor to ceiling doors cleaning balconies bed making shopping cleaning bathrooms washing ironing. Everything needed to look after a massive 5 bedroom penthouse. I worked 45 hours per week.
Over time my wrists started getting really sore and my thumbs also.
As soon as I started complaining to my employer about my pain and ever increasing workload , the nasty employer appeared and bullying from her and her assistant started.
It got to the point over 4 years my hands felt like they were on fire. I ended up having bilateral carpel tunnel syndrome. I went on workcover and had both hands operated on at once.
After surgery my healing was slow and pretty soon I was in agony , after months of this I was diagnosed by my surgeon and a pain specialist with chronic regional pain syndrome.
I was advised to get legal advice which I did. As soon as I got a lawyer everything changed.
I was advised by the workcover psychologist to go to a pain clinic at the hospital I had my surgery.I went to the leading doctor there who was steely and cold to me , he kept asking me about why I had a lawyer (what did this have to do with the clinic ? ) anyway he was so nasty to me he didn’t examine me just said you r waiting my time you won’t get better so we can’t help you.He then sent a report to my doctors saying I did not have chronic regional pain syndrome and next thing I know workcover ring me on my due payday and say as of today you will no longer be paid . You are stable now you’re no longer considered as having a work related injury and are no longer covered by workcover.
Apparently after receiving the report from my pain clinic doctor who didn’t even examine me , my doctors signed letters stating I do not have CRPS and no longer needed treatment . By now I’m on 3 highly addictive pain medication and am told to just stop taking them.
So I no longer get therapy for my now useless hands. No more pain relief. I can’t put petrol in my car as I have no grip strength to squeeze the trigger to put petrol in. I can’t lift anything heavy including my own grand kids . Shopping is near impossible let alone shampooing my hair. Opening doors or jars or bottles . I am in constant pain. It seemed everyone’s opinion of me changed as soon as they all knew I had a lawyer.
I was left with no income with 5 mins notice because my pay gets put through at 1 pm it was 12.55 when I got the phone call from workcover cancelling my account. How am I supposed to work with useless hands ?
Thank you for sharing your story with us, again highlighting how workcover insurers will jump on just about anything to discontinue your weekly pay, medical treatment or your workcover claim. Whether a biased IME’s “opinion”, or, as in your case, a biased report/letter from a “pain doctor” who did not even examine you.
In addition to that, RSD/CRPS is not always easy to diagnose as it can flare up and “disappear” for days or weeks, and many doctors still do not understand the condition well. One of aworkcovervictimsdiary’s authors in fact suffers from this painful condition, and has been told, for example, by a biased IME that she did not suffer from the condition as the blue discloloration of her limb was due to being “immobilised in a sling” – WTF! Another biased, geriatric IME wrote that she did not suffer from this debilitating condition as the mottled and blue/cold limb was due to “keeping the limb dependent” (hanging next to body) – WTF. Interestingly the limb was in a sling at the time of the exam, and was blue, mottled and cold, and certainly not hanging “dependent”. On other occasions the injured worker’s limb would be of normal colour at an exam precluding the diagnosis of RSD/CRPS, only to turn a vicious purple when leaving the examination room. This condition is usually unpredictable in symptomatically (which vary) and there are also various stages of the disease.
Only specialised pain doctors are able to properly diagnose and treat this condition.
You can read much more about this painful and debilitating condition on the website www.rsd.org
If WorkCover advise you that they intend to terminate your weekly payments, medical treatment expenses or workcover claim, you should refer the decision to the dispute resolution service in you state, i.e. to the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service in Victoria. It is your RIGHT to appeal any decision made by your workcover insurer. You also have the right to seek a second medical opinion, paid by the insurer!
In Victoria, one of the most common methods of resolving this type of dispute is to refer the issue to the Medical Panel (via conciliation). When a matter is referred to the Medical Panel, it is often important to be in a position to demonstrate that in the absence of treatment, your condition will worsen. It can sometimes be useful to have a discussion with your treating doctor about whether you should have a brief break in your treatment, i.e. physiotherapy or pain management treatment to determine the effect of its termination on you. That way you will have evidence that ceasing you medical treatment is absurd and that it should be reinstated.
You may also be interested in the following articles
- Surveillance video shows effective short term treatment – not deceit!
- WorkCover state the AMA guide does not recognise chronic pain
- Workcover termination of payments: when insurer suddenly terminates medical expenses
- What if a claim is rejected or notice is given that weekly payments will stop?