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.
Not 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]