Workcover certificates of capacity trends – Monash study


A recent study conducted by the Monash University (see below) has apparently examined the practices of general practitioners and other medical specialists when issuing WorkCover certificates of capacity.

The researchers considered data provided by the Victorian WorkCover Authority for cases between 2003 and 2010 to identify trends in certification practices.

The study – bizarely entitled “GP’s unlikely to recommend alternative duties for injured workers”- in fact concluded that (only) workers who suffer from mental health conditions are more likely to be certified unfit for all duties as opposed to being able to return on a limited basis. (Heloo – anyone in their right mind would know that it takes much longer, on average, to recover from crippling major depression or for example permanent PTSD than from a broken leg, duh! Returning bullied victims into the lions den is also not that easy, is it?)

Workers suffering from a physical injury were more likely to return to work on alternative duties sooner rather than later. Overall, however, the data indicated that workers received alternative duties certificates for a much longer period of time than they did unfit for all duties certificates.

The researchers also examined whether the worker’s type of injury had an impact on the length of time they received certificates from the treating health professional. The available data indicates that workers with musculoskeletal injuries and strains were likely to need certificates for a shorter period of time than people who suffered from psychiatric conditions or fractured bones whilst in the workplace….

So, in our humble injured opinion we have no idea what the f*ck the researchers are whingeing about!

Workcover certificates of capacity trends – Monash study

GPs unlikely to recommend alternative duties for injured workers

Victorian General Practitioners (GPs) are more likely to order ill or injured workers stay away from work than recommend alternative duties, according to an Australian first study.

Published in the prestigious Medical Journal of Australia this week, the study examined more than 120,000 medical certificates provided to injured workers in Victoria from 2003 to 2010.

The study was a collaborative work undertaken by academics from the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) and Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine.

Chief Research Officer for ISCRR, Dr Alex Collie, said more than 70 per cent of initial medical certificates issued by GPs for injured workers instructed them to stay away from work. Fewer than a quarter recommended a return to work with modified duties.

“This has significant implications given the growing body of evidence showing work benefits health and that returning to work after injury or illness can in fact promote recovery,” Dr Collie said.

“These days lost are also highly relevant to the growing debate around the productivity of our workforce and the viability of compensation schemes.

“We know that GPs play a front line role in returning injured workers to work as they are the first point of contact with the health care system and the main gatekeepers to works compensation and disability benefits.”

The study is the first to assess sickness certification of injured and ill workers in Australia and the first study worldwide to assess certification by GPs in a population this large.

It also found GPs were more likely to issue unfit-for-work certificates for patients with mental health conditions.

“Our results are consistent with studies in the UK which showed the highest proportion of unfit-for-work certificates were written for workers with mental health conditions,” Dr Collie said.

Only four per cent of Victorian workers with mental health conditions received a certificate recommending a return to work with modified duties in this study.

“Workers with fractures, traumatic injuries, back pain and strains, musculoskeletal disorders and other diseases were more likely to receive certificates recommending a return to work than those with mental health conditions,” Dr Collie said.

The study is part of a broader project examining the role of GPs in the return to work process and has undertaken in-depth qualitative interviews with GPs, injured workers, employers and compensation scheme representatives.

Lead researcher Professor Danielle Mazza, from Monash University, said the one-on-one interviews provided a detailed cross-section of viewpoints.

“The interviews explored the intricacies of the individuals’ experience from their perspective and this will in turn facilitate understanding of the attitudes and practices of the various groups involved in returning an injured or ill worker to work,” Professor Mazza said.



4 Responses to “Workcover certificates of capacity trends – Monash study”

  1. So what are they trying to say? The GP is not giving correct diagnosis of the patient? Or How can we ( the insurer) manipulate GP’s in prematurely returning injured workers back to cut their costs? It seems they have 100 000 Workcover certificates from those lab rats called injured workers to research. Sounds like insurance company funded research to me.

    • The study was a collaborative work undertaken by academics from the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) and Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine.

      Trinny you are right – The Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) is a joint initiative of WorkSafe Victoria (WorkSafe), the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) and Monash University. It was established in 2009 to facilitate research and best practice in injury prevention, rehabilitation and compensation. Funding and support is provided by the three partner organisations.

      ISCRR has a collaborative research model. This relies on extensive and ongoing consultation and engagement with all stakeholders involved at every stage of a research endeavour: from setting the research agenda, through facilitating and conducting excellent research to translating the research findings into best practice in WorkSafe and TAC operations.

      ISCRR is based in Melbourne, Australia.

      workcovervictim3 November 29, 2013 at 3:30 pm
  2. I wonder sometimes what the future will be like, if they can sink this low with so called ‘research’ (actually it is more like funded bias) what are they going to do next? I can just see it, ‘Research finds all injured workers rort the system and must be sent back to work immediately for daring to get injured from the negligence of their employer.’ I struggled for a year or so at work after a physical injury caused by employer negligence. I was subjected to amateur doctor judgements from some colleagues, eager to shame me for daring to be injured and never once showing any compassion for me when I struggled to get up stairs. These same people are the ones who would read this research and feel smug thinking it shows injured workers bung it on. Funny thing is these useful idiots never realise how they are being played, until it happens to them. Those uni researchers are not immune to being injured themselves, but hey if a right wing government or a huge insurance monopoly is guaranteeing funding to supply false data to promote the myth of the fake injured worker then why should they even think about their own safety or anyone else’s.

  3. Many thanks for sharing this.

    What a waste of time !! The people with a metal injury and who have been bullied or sexually touched, of course they do not go back to work.

    They ARE denied by the insurer however. Even where there is an admission of guilt.
    It takes going to court to get attention and cover.

    Due to the fact the insurers know this class will cost them the most, if they can. they deny. The doctor then the shrink are left to try and repair the damage, but just as they are coming to grips with it the INSURANCE company denies liability giving the stamp of approval on the actions that caused the injury in the first place.

    Is this common or the typical response via the insurers ? Why didn’t monash university go to the other side with these cases and both physical and mental injuries and then examine the actions of the insuring agent ?

    They cant deny liability without investigation. So of the 120,000- certificates issued the vast majority were for sub 3 month injuries and most were for the sub one month type.

    I would question those of a longer nature, the 10,000- or so permanently disabled whether via physical or mental disorders how many experienced the insurer downright the hell they liked. Physical injured parties get doctor shopped until the insurer tells an injured person who has no arms and no legs they are fit to continue work as an AFL player. On the mental side, without the stamina to even endure a few visits to shrinks, they quickly find some shrink who claims its all an act and again the disturbed person is dealt another blow just like what happened at work.

    I have a question, in all the people denied on or around the 3 month mark, some are and should be denied. Some return to work due to extreme financial pressure, Some take longer and Centrelink picks up the pieces. Some remain on centrelink for very long periods of time. Some fight it but suspect less than half do vs going onto benifits.

    There is a percentage who end up on the streets or worse.

    Why didn’t Monash university study something which may actually highlight something of use ?

    If Workcover denies liability, saves some money, in reality quite often its NOT a saving but a permanent cost to society FOREVER that they save $30,000- or $50,000- on but the person ends up on benefits and medicare safety net costing $1 million over the rest of their lives.

    That may have been a more productive study. But Monash as it gets its funding from where ? Unlikely seen as a place it should never go with a study because it would mean University professors ending up on benefits when their funding is cut.

    How many have their cases denied after 2-3 months ?