It’s not the first time that we have received a most disturbing email from an injured worker who has experienced a most inhumane “independent medical examination” by a “doctor” who – frankly – bullied and humiliated the injured worker and who was described as hostile.
Rude, hostile, biased and inhumane independent medical examination doctors
On this occasion a severely psychologically injured worker was (again) sent to an psychiatric IME by his insurer.From the minute the injured worker stepped into the IME’s rooms, the IME’s attitude was hostile and he appeared to have formed his opinion and made his judgement. The IME’s behaviour was highly unethical and brutal. He did not appear to do his job as a doctor appointed to make an assessment, but rather behaved like a “BULLY”. He also had no right to order the poor and totally bewildered injured worker to refrain from taking his medication at the times he is required to do so.The injured worker sets his alarm to remind himself to take his medication at different times of the day so he does not forget to do so.Unfortunately his mobile phone alarm went off whilst he was in the room. When he attempted to take his medications which was due the rude IME , for example, literally snatched his bag of medication and “THREW” his medication on the floor which was in a bag and said “NO” medication until I finish my examination.
He also ordered him to do nothing, but listen to him (the IME) without interruption or explanation of what the injured worker may have had to say. This attitude & treatment towards the injured worker was nothing less than like treating a common criminal. The IME had also questioned the injured worker in a most humiliating manner regarding taking Marijuana or illicit drugs! And when the injured worker denied taking illicit/recreational drugs the IME kept on saying “Are you sure “about that”. The injured worker had told him that his father was a Police Officer and that he would do any such thing, as it would be a disgrace to do so.(the injured worker was brought up that way) . However, even so, the IME replied and said “Oh that wouldn’t stop you from doing so-right!!The rude IME seemed to be the judge and jury without factual evidence and had already seemed to have made up his mind up even before the examination had finished and continued to “BULLY” the bewildered injured worker.
Note: this is just an extract of a series of disgusting events that took place.
The injured worker wrote a complaint letter, which to date has been “hand-balled”
Another injured worker wrote that ” “This IME Psychiatrist saw me for the second time in 6 months in the wake of the severe bullying I incurred on a Return To Work. He stood up over me and shouted at me during the assessment, at a point where I was crying and having difficulty articulating my thoughts. I can’t prove that can I? We were the only people in the room that day. He then went on to write a very biased report about me, a report which led to my Workcover claim being denied…” This injured worker wrote a complaint letter.
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.
In an other case, a bewildered injured worker was told during an IME psychiatry that her mother must have committed suicide ! (whilst her poor mother died in a car accident through negligence of the other driver, and which remains a painful memory to the injured worker – besides the injured worker suffers from purely severe physical injuries and did not understand what this had to do with her physical injuries). At the beginning of the assessment the injured worker gently slid a folder across the “coffee table” (the injured worker had a freshly operated leg and arm, and at the time of the assessment has also a fully dislocated shoulder and used 1 crutch, so she could not easily stand up and walk across the coffee table) only to read in the report that the injured worker “had flung a folder at the IME’s head!”
In another case, an severely physical injured worker with a severe primary psychiatric injury (from the traumatic accident in the form of severe PTSD) was again asked to attend an IME psychiatry with a well know biased and rude IME. Her treating psychiatrist had provided her with a letter asking the IME to please refrain making the injured worker recall the traumatic event, as it would cause her a severe PTSD flare up and that ample information surrounding the traumatic event was available in multiple reports, incl a comprehensive medical panel assessment. The most inhuman shrink took obvious delight in making the injured worker recall the finest details of her trauma, to the point where the injured worker went cowering in a corner of the room with her hands over her head pleading to stop… still he continued. The injured worker suffered a major PTSD attack, necessitating immediate emergency hospitalisation. The IME’s only action was to drag this injured lady to the bathroom “to go an clean herself up” so that other patients and fellow doctors would not see in what terrible state this woman came out of that room. The injured worker and her psychiatrist successfully complained to the medical board and this creep received a final warning…
Complaining about rude, biased, unethical independent doctors
First of all record any IME assessment for evidence
Atlas Legal told us a while ago that 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.
Minimum standards of conduct
According to the online claims manual victoria, The IME agreement sets a range of standards for s112 examinations which require the IME to:
- make appointments (to undertake the s112 examination) as soon as practicable after receiving a request, usually within 3 weeks of a request
- not keep injured workers waiting for an unreasonable period of time
- interview and examine with care, consideration and courtesy
- conduct examinations in accordance with recognised professional standards and applicable law
- allow sufficient examination time for a fair and comprehensive examination that answers the questions asked
- ask the agent to contact the injured worker’s treating practitioner where clarification is required
- obtain written consent from the injured worker if they need to contact the injured worker’s THP (treating health practitioner) directly and
- obtain approval from the agent before initiating additional tests.
Minimum standards for medical practitioner IME reports
The Medical Practitioner’s IME Agreement specifies minimum standards for preparing the report and for peer review of those reports for quality assurance purposes. The Agreement requires that the report must be:
- timely ie within seven business days of the examination
- accurate ie including accurate medical diagnosis, appropriate clinical examination, detailed history of the injury with supporting reasons for the diagnosis, an evidence based approach to evaluating symptoms and clinical findings, recommendations and indication where insufficient clinical information exists
- unbiased ie independent, impartial, contain only relevant information and not disclose personal information
- consistent ie internally consistent between opinion and findings
- contain standard reference information including regarding purpose, timing, materials, relevant histories, findings and investigations and answers to the agent’s specific questions and
- be signed personally by the IME.
Complain against an IME
Section: Complaints against IMEs
If a worker is concerned about the conduct of a s112 examination, they may make a complaint.
Complaints may include allegations of any of the following:
- causing unnecessary pain in an examination
- complaints of an examiner’s manner
- incorrect reporting
- inappropriate behaviour.
All complaints about IMEs should be referred to the IME Services Branch of WorkSafe (contact 03 9641 1757).
The nature of the IME complaint determines how the complaint will be handled. WorkSafe will only investigate administrative complaints. Other complaints in relation to the professional and ethical conduct of IMEs may be referred to either the:
- Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria or relevant Allied Health Board or
- Health Services Commissioner.
Types of complaints
If a verbal complaint is received, the agent must:
- register a complaint
- advise the complainant that WorkSafe assesses all complaints about IMEs and that the complaint will be referred to WorkSafe
- Notify WorkSafe immediately about the complaint by contacting the Health Services Group on 03 9641 1757. The details to include are
complainants name (if not worker, please specify)
name of examiner
- outline of complaint.
Agents must not contact the medical examiner regarding the complaint or any matter related to the complaint.(!!!)
If a written complaint is received, the agent must:
- date stamp the day of receipt
- forward complaints within 24 hours of receipt to:
IME Services Branch
GPO Box 4306
MELBOURNE VIC 3001
- or fax immediately to 03 9641 1767
- include any relevant additional information in regard to the complainant or medical examiner, for example medical reports, IME referral letter correspondence previously received etc
- place a copy of documentation on the worker’s claim file
- notify the complainant that WorkSafe assesses all complaints about IMEs and that the complaint will be referred to WorkSafe.
Agents must not contact the medical examiner regarding the complaint or any matter related to the complaint.!!!!
Keep a register of complaints
Agents are encouraged to keep a central register to record the details of medical complaints against a s112 medical examiner, whether verbal or in writing. The details that may be recorded include:
- date complaint received
- medical examiner’s name and address
- details of appointment
- name of worker
- claim number
- name of employer
- name of person or organisation making complaint, if different from worker
- details of complaint
- type of complaint:
- verbal or written
- administrative or medical
- date complaint referred to WorkSafe
- details of any action taken.
Referrals to s112 medical examiner who was the subject of a complaint
Note: Only WorkSafe can remove a medical examiner from the approved list but agents can determine which medical examiners from the list are to be used.
[posted on behalf of workcovervictim]