One issue that is nearly impossible to find is that once signing the workcover claim from to provide information from your Doctor you need to revoke these permissions once your claim has finalised. Or your case manager can use old Workcover medical permissions indefinitely..
They can even use the old claim medical permissions to support their decisions for your new claim. This could be damaging for you new claim and allow them access to material that has no relevance to your new workcover claim. If your a nurse, paramedic or a police officer for example then it highly likely you will make more than one workcover claim in the life of your career, given the nature of the work (i.e manual lifting, risk of physical assault etc).
I have been searching for an article on this for a few days. This is getting close.
Obtaining injured workers medical records – revoke permissions once your claim has finalised
Post by co-author Trinny
Published: 12/04/2010 on WorkCover Ombudsman SA website
Medical practitioners have both an ethical and a legal duty to protect the confidentiality of the information acquired as a result of the management of patients. Confidentiality of a patient’s medical information is not breached if the patient has consented to the release of the information. The medical authority that appears on the Claim Form for workers compensation is in the following terms: “I give permission for my medical experts to provide WorkCoverSA, its claims agent Employers Mutual or my self-insured employer with information relating to my injury or condition. I also give permission for any medical experts to receive x-rays, medical records or reports relating to my claim (including copies) for the purpose of writing a report about my injury or condition. A photocopy of this medical authority is as valid as the original.”
An injured worker making a claim is not obliged to sign this authority, but the compensating authority may take longer to investigate the claim and make a decision if it does not have the worker’s authority to request information about the injury from the worker’s treating doctors. In addition, the onus is on the injured worker to establish that they have an entitlement to compensation for their injury or condition. In other words, it is up to the worker to prove that the disability for which they are claiming has arisen from employment. Therefore, unless injured workers already have sufficient evidence from their doctors and other sources that links the injury to their employment, it is in the workers’ best interests to sign the medical authority so that the compensating authority can obtain the relevant information from their doctors.
It is clear from the wording of the medical authority on the Claim Form that it permits the treating doctor to provide the case manager with information relating only to the injury or condition that is the subject of the claim. It does not authorize the release of the worker’s entire medical file to the case manager. If a case manager needs more medical information than the medical authority allows, he or she will either have to seek a separate authority from the injured worker or arrange to have the worker examined by an independent medical expert.
In the situation where the injured worker refuses to provide an extended medical authority and a medical report from an independent doctor would not provide the information required to properly determine or manage the claim, the case manager may apply to WorkCoverSA for an authorized officer to obtain the information under section 110 of the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1986. The power of an authorized officer under section 110 to obtain records and require a person to answer questions is quite broad. It can be used to override doctor/patient confidentiality as long as the information requested is relevant to “any matter arising under this Act”.
In the case of WorkCover v BHP Pty Ltd; Jagermann v WorkCover (1999) 73 SASR 393, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court suggested that it might be an unfair use of section110 powers to require a doctor treating a worker who has claimed compensation to produce clinical records and answer questions about the worker. However, the Chief Justice did not categorically rule out the use of section 110 for this purpose and indicated that the question of fairness would have to be considered on a case by case basis. Even so, it should be accepted from the Chief Justice’s comments that, in regard to the task of obtaining medical information about a worker from treating doctors, the use of section 110 powers is a last resort.
When there are dispute proceedings before the Workers Compensation Tribunal, a compensating authority is able to obtain a subpoena (a summons for documents issued by the Tribunal) for the purpose of requiring treating doctors and hospitals to forward the worker’s medical records to the Tribunal. Provided the records are relevant to the dispute, the Tribunal will ordinarily allow the compensating authority to obtain a copy of them once they are in the Tribunal’s possession. In this situation, a medical authority from the worker is unnecessary. If a worker objects to any of the medical information supplied to the Tribunal as a result of a subpoena being released to the compensating authority, the worker will be given the opportunity to argue the point, but the Tribunal has the final say.
Note: whilst this article refers to WorkCover SA we believe most (if not all) applies to all Australian states.
This post has been seen 2171 times.