Independent Medical Examination doctors – is their job dangerous?

IME-threat

Have you, like us, ever wondered if more ‘notorious’ independent medical examination doctors (IME) are verbally and/or physically threatened with (bodily) harm by injured workers, or perhaps their family or even friends? What if a genuinely injured worker— whose emotions run hot and whose future it at stake—receives a grossly biased, extremely unfair and utterly insulting IME report, resulting in loss (i.e. weekly pay, medical and like etc), damage (i.e. common law claim), hurt, humiliation… and… utter RAGE?

Independent Medical Examination doctors – is their job dangerous?

We believe that running a medico-legal practice and undertaking IME assessments for workcover insurers is not a very safe job. Why? Emotions inevitably run high when injured/ill workers feel that their future is at stake.Whether weekly payments, medical and like entitlements or a potential claim for damages (common law) is simply squashed by a cursive IME assessment, or by a frank dishonest IME report, it is only ‘natural’ for a genuinely injured/ill worker to feel ‘done-over’, hurt, humiliated, insulted and to– potentially — become very, very angry.

Isn’t it interesting that most workcover insurance companies have rather intricate security systems in place, not dissimilar to a bank. For example, their reception areas have “bullet-proof” glass or wire;  visitors need to formally sign in and sign out and also wear identifying badges at all times, and they have CCTV/cameras running. Surely this implies that there is potential for real ‘harm’ by– for example– a very disgruntled injured worker.

On the other hand, doctor’s offices don’t have these elaborate security systems, nor do the offices or practices of independent medical examination doctors. They really can’t do this. Who would want to visit a doctor (or IME) who sits behind a bullet-proof window or cage? So, this means that these IMEs (whether nice or evil) have to sit in the room with the injured/ill worker, and generally speaking without anyone else being present (apart from a ‘chaperone’ for some examinations; or an injured worker’s support person).

The problem is that – and don’t get us wrong, we’re not defending IMEs (particularly not the medical whores) – quite a few injured/ill workers may be / or become very or extremely annoyed at, for example, having to have their (traumatic) story gone over again and again – especially if the poor injured worker is mentally unwell (i.e. PTSD) or fragile – yet their story must be gone over for the IME to ‘understand’ the (mechanism of) injury and in order to make their ‘assessment’. Needless to mention that some IMEs (especially some of the notorious Pyschiatrists IMEs) are quite rude, provocative, uncaring and unfeeling when forcing such injured workers to recall and repeat their traumatic stories over and over again.

chalkNot long ago we heard from a doctor that an injured worker, who had suffered both a severe physical and psychiatric injury, had told him that he ‘would f*cking kill‘ the particular (notorious) IME psychiatrist (if he ever saw him again) for being so obnoxious, rude and especially for ‘writing a pack of lies’ in his IME report (which resulted in weekly pay cut-off). Apparently the threat to “kill” the IME was so genuine and alarming that the injured worker’s own treating doctor felt obliged to disclose this ‘danger’ to this particular IME Psychiatrist, when the injured worker was scheduled to be assessed by this very same IME again. As a result, the notorious psychiatrist IME called the workcover insurer and requested “security” be present in order to protect him (the IME) from potential physical harm.

What happened next was pretty disturbing: the local police was summoned to attend the IME’s medical practice, however the injured worker did NOT attend the IME and instead committed suicide on that very same day.

About 6 months later, a formal complaint was lodged against that psychiatrist IME by the –now deceased– injured worker’s family, stating that the Psychiatrist IME had caused the injured worker’s suicide, by providing a grossly biased IME report some 6 months prior, by being rude, uncaring, hurtful and by traumatising the injured worker to such an extent that s/he chose to take her/his own life rather than to be assessed by this IME again. (We don’t know whether the case was successful or not.)

While actual death threats are rare, we know that quite a few enraged injured workers have —for example —telephoned their IME(s), especially in the middle of the night, to insult them.

A real example: an enraged injured worker who lost his benefits because of an extremely dishonest IME report used to repeatedly call that IME between 2 and 5 in the morning and told him over and over again “your f*cking bastard, your shonky IME report caused me to lose my weekly payments, and convinced everybody… you’re a f*cking prick, how can you sleep at night…”.

Have you ever wondered why these IMEs don’t publish their  home addresses nor home phone numbers?

Quite a few (notorious) IMEs have also tried to convince the Australian Medical Association (AMA) as well as workcover authorities to ‘do something about this”, alleging that their work as medico-legal doctors (IMEs) is “very dangerous”. Some IMEs have also tried to persuade Courts not to publish their names in transcripts/judgements/case law, nor in the media ‘because of the irreparable damage done to their careers”.

While we can understand the potential (safety) risks for medico-legal doctors, and do believe that some IMEs may very well have received several death threats, we also strongly feel that there is a potential serious risk (of harm) to injured/ill workers from certain IMEs. Indeed many injured workers have complained of physical injury caused by a rude IME (i.e. medical examination), or a total ‘nervous breakdown’ (i.e. PTSD flare up) caused by an uncaring IME (psychiatric examinations). Tragically some injured/ill workers DO commit suicide as a result of their ‘experience(s)’ with certain IMEs. That is not to say the IME ’caused’ the suicide per se, but it can be enough to tip someone over the edge. As stated earlier, emotions inevitably run high when an injured/ill worker’ future is at stake.

As such, we strongly believe that injured workers should equally be allowed to summon the police to attend an IME examination, in order to protect the injured worker (from physical and/or mental harm). Better yet, we believe there should be in place an independent body which would allow for the injured worker’s own treating doctor (eg. his/her own treating psychiatrist/psychologist or GP) to attend such dreaded IME assessments with the injured worker, and if need be, that a police officer or some ‘security’ trained person also be allowed to attend the injured worker’s examination. Access to a form of supportive post-IME assessment ‘debrief’ should also be made freely available to injured workers.

What do you think?

 

 

[Post by Workcovervictim and Workcovervictim3, dictated and manually transcribed their behalf]

 



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19 Responses to “Independent Medical Examination doctors – is their job dangerous?”

  1. A poem by a victim so very tired and simply cannot take it anymore!

    Sound of Birds or a deafening silence

    I hear the sound of birds in the morning
    What do they say to the world at large
    Is it the sound of a new day that has dawned?
    Or Is it just a dream I see; there are no birds at all!

    Is it the mirror I broke that brought me down?
    Or did I really break the hearts of those who loved me?
    It’s hard to say when you don’t know what you have done
    It may be the curse of those who once loved me

    Is it that I have erased all the cruel things I have done
    In order to escape the guilt in my heart
    Or may be they are cast in stone in my heart that it can’t be erased
    Oh what have I done to make a warm heart turn to stone?

    The greatest love of all is to love yourself, they say
    But dear Lord I don’t know myself to love or to receive love
    I have failed all along that I can’t take it any more
    Will you forgive me if I fail you one last time?

    I feel empty and I can’t feel a thing inside
    Silence is so deafening; or wait…. is it the sound of the birds I hear?
    I am so confused, that I don’t know real from unreal
    Is this the end of a journey?

    When did I start this journey?
    Where did I start this journey that seems to go nowhere?
    Have I been running faster than light or even thought
    That I have come to where I began?

    Does my existence in this place bring joy to anyone?
    It certainly brings me none. Even if it does, how am I to feel it?
    The sound of the birds or absolute silence
    Who would miss these when I depart?

    A sage once said don’t die with the music still inside you
    I have sung my heart out, but used the wrong key.
    Birds please keep singing when I am gone
    Others around me might then hear a melody

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    • Well written Anthony…however re insurance Co security TIO in Darwin has been attacked by disgruntled angry clients either by smashing car through the doors May 2014
      http://www.ntnews.com.au/news/northern-territory/disgruntled-customer-drives-car-into-tio-office-in-darwi

      or pushing trolley load of explosives into main office area Feb 2010…
      http://www.smh.com.au/national/trolley-blast-explosives-wheeled-into-shopping-centre-20100203-ncjg.html

      It makes you wonder how bad they were treated by TIO for these people to go to these extremes…
      TIO has since been sold by the NT Govt (without support from NT residents etc) to Allianz…..although NT Govt maintains it will manage the MACA side of things…..big friggan deal

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    • OMG This is so good ,it is us ,it is me. Thank you Tony for posting this can we use it ??I would like to give it to all the IMES I see

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    • PLEASE PLEASE IF ANYONE HAS ANY SELF HARM THOUGHTS OR SUICIDAL THOUGHTS ONCE AGAIN RING SOMEONE RING A HELP LINE eg LIFELINE.
      I know things can get tough, go for a walk, watch some kids programs on telly. your life is worth more than Workcover think it is. JUST BE BRAVE. Im talking from experience. I now have a tattoo on my arm with the names of my 9 grandchildren when I start feeling down I just look down.

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      • I have suicidal thoughts all the time but I manage to pull myself thru these dark days and hours reminding myself there is no way I could it as my home is a disgusting mess and so is my yard as I cant maintain them anymore due to my injury….I have no extra funds to hire cleaner gardner etc ……When I injured my back due to a sporting injury in my teens I still had a life and could manage menial chores not all in one go but over several days….the fusion I ended up having set me back for 18 months but I had govt organised home/shopping help I still managed to go to uni even tho I was not allowed to sit for 3 months I would kneel or stand…..but eventually I got my life back together with a few setbacks along the way….but hey I was living a quality life…..then I had work injury on leg……you dont realise how much your extremities mean to you until you injure one or 2…this has set me back worse than what my back ever did I have no life…menial chores are extremely painful spring cleaning a home forget it having a nice garden forget it…..the day I received the BS report I had a severe anxiety attack could not believe the BS in it since then depression has set in …..I know the day I get my home cleaned and to the standard I am use to would be the day I am pain free and have won my court case to afford thye surgeries I need……but yes suicide crosses my mind weekly

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  2. Dear Delued
    I can feel what they might have felt. I have been sent to 6 IMEs and the last three have been to “well known” medico legal people who love to appear in court.

    They talk of good faith…..most of us have NO ISSUE in going to any IME as long as they allow us to record the sessions so that these people cannot twist and turn and issue biased reports

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    • I RECORD THEM REGARDLESS……i dont give a hoot what they think…this unfair unjust biased system needs a shake up…….well off to send email to ACA and unfair biased opinion from mediator discussing my case with CGU casemanager where he fomulated a view before my issues were concluded….faaark you CGU and worksafe

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  3. I belive its true they should be worried, there so called examination is up too the doctor not what the poor patient is telling them, if the doctor tells the insurance company what they want to hear they will continue to get work from them. So i can see when patients get angry they have a perfectly good reason all the stress from the injury and the mental strain people snap, footballers have a so called brain snap and there not stressed. ? Ive been too two examinations one said the totall opposite to the other one being insurance company doctor and the other a normal doctor, guess which one said you are fine nothing wrong with you?.. so I agree doctor’s should be worried WATCH OUT,,,,, im surprised an iME hasn’t been killed yet…. what’s your thoughts???

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    • maybe thats why most IME’s are not local and are flown in….well thats what they do here

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    • Dear Angry,so sorry to hear about your rough trot with those so called IME don’t you just love them as we all have been in your shoes and know exactly how you feel and what you are thinking.But don’t you worry they get threats etc etc but we never hear about it as this is what they want.They the doctors and insurance companies keep it out of the public so they are not aware of what it is really like when on workcover,if the public did then there would be a lot of questions asked that they don’t want to answer to.I dream oneday of a royal commission and KARMA of course.

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  4. I have taken this matter up with ASIC. The US and Canadian laws are different to ours. They allow the insured to record the IME. I wonder whether a class action or a petition though change.org might help all innocent victims to fight these large insurance companies.

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    • HI Tony do up a petition on change org I will sign and I hope every one’s family’s and friends will sign

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  5. Is it possible to start a class action so we can get this legislation changed? If we are allowed to record the IMEs, the unethical medical whores will not be able to issue biased reports that favor the insurance company.
    http://www.classactionsaustralia.com.au

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  6. Well when you look at the current royal commissions they had peeps that complained similar to what we do especially the RC and child sexual abuse in institutions…..However this RC failed to include the Family Court as an institution where child sexual abuse is hushed up …..Bravehearts however have taken the initiative and are collecting stories under Abbey’s Project…..I finished giving my story yesterday….Bravehearts are putting a petition with peoples experiences to the Govt and the RC….wont know the outcome for some time but fingers crossed…..Anyway maybe if we had an organisation similar to Bravehearts or a legal firm to bid/back on our behalf a class action or RC could be possible…..If a legal firm did come to the party it would have to consider the legislation for every state and Territory…if you look at the NT worksafe does not have a DR/IME register like our southern areas do….our fees are not regulated by worksafe and based on medicare levy….Up here in the NT it costs $167.50 for a short work health consult with certificate…..I paid $600 for a medical report in SA here they start at $1200…there are DR’s up here that try to charge a maximum of $5000 for a report……we very rarely do permanent impairment assessments everything is usually settled by a Hopkins Deed…..So my point we would need a dedicated team and maybe with deep pockets that would help to collect collate our stories and put a case together that covers all the legislation that wont be dismissed at the 1st instance….using organisations such as change.org the wording would have to be spot on otherwise nothing will happen….Talking and discussing about doing something like this sounds good…but as they say Action = Reaction.and vica versa..and would injured peeps come forward?

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  7. Dear Workcover victim,i read what you wrote about these doctors saying how dangerous it is for them,well don’t do it then its would appear the money is still their main reason for doing the reports.Its us that need protecting,yes having a cop there would be great they to get treated like shit so they might be a lot more understanding.Security guard no thanks they have no more powers than you and I.The insurance companies with all their cameras etc etc well does that not speak in volumes they would not spend it unless it was necessary we all know they wont spend money.It should be allowed to be recorded by the both parties.We the sick and injured did not ask for this life to be trust upon us and we have no choice but to be in the workcover system,however the IME does have a choice to do or not to do these reports if its so dangerous well don’t do it.

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  8. Of course their job is dangerous , imagine if they get injured at work and have to put a claim in to work cover and go through what we have to.

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    • I wonder if their colleagues would write a bullshit report for them when they have to front an IME

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