We believe that one of the most difficult problems with the current workcover Independent Examination system is that there is usually no way for an injured worker to know the full history of the IME doctor who is performing the examination. For example, if a certain IME doctor has been the subject of multiple complaints, the injured worker has (generally) no way to know about these previous complaints. This is also the reason why we started our IME list.
History, including complaints, of the IME doctors lacks transparency
Fact is that workover insurance companies are relying on so-called independent medical examination (IME) doctors to perform “regular” examinations on injured workers; examinations which can greatly influence and even determine whether a workcover insurer will pay for the injured worker’s recommended treatment; whether they will pay weekly payments (and for how long); and even whether an injured worker will be compensated for their injuries.
The IME doctors who perform these examinations are supposed to be fair and definitely unbiased. Unfortunately, the reality is that too often these IME doctors are skewed and even biased against the injured worker in favour of the workcover insurer. This sadly often results is an already vulnerable injured/ill worker to be victimised again in their pursuit of (some) justice.
One of the most difficult problems with the current IME system is that there is usually no way for an injured worker to know the history of the IME doctor who is performing the examination. For example, if a particular IME doctor has been the subject of multiple complaints, the injured worker has generally no (or very little) way to know about these previous complaints. It appears that just about all complaints about IME doctors are kept secret by the body that regulates doctors in Australia, (and/or workcover authorities) unless and until there is a formal finding of (gross) misconduct by our state’s Health Complaints Commissioners and/or health practitioner’s professional association (AMA), and/or by The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) against that IME doctor.
Furthermore it is very difficult to sift through our legal case-law databases to find scathing and “adverse” remarks made by Judge(s) about certain notorious IMEs. Here is an example of a recent legal case where the defendant’s IME opinion was heavily discredited:Workcover Insurer & IMEs behaviour ‘disgraceful’ and ‘seriously alarming’ says Judge
It appears that an injured worker is only able to gather some information about the reputation of an IME by searching sites such as ratemds, and – of course – our site which has a list of frequently adversely reported IMEs.
Wouldn’t it be fairer for injured workers (and their lawyers) to know how many formal complaints were made about a certain IME? How many of those IMEs have been scathed and their opinion(s) discredited in a Court of law? Wouldn’t it be fairer if workcover authorities would publicly publish – at the very least – the number and nature of complaints against IMEs?
It certainly appears that IME doctors are fighting to keep all investigations and complaints from examined injured workers as secret as possible from the public and injured workers.
It is also not the first time aworkcovervictimsdiary has been threatened with a defamation lawsuit by certain IMEs for allowing injured workers to voice their concerns and/or share their less than professional experiences! One such a misplaced threat came from a well-known not so independent (to say it nicely) IME psychiatrist. More recently aworkcovervictimsdiary received an email from yet another frequently adversely reported and (obviously) disgruntled IME psychiatrist demanding we apologise for “a defamatory mistake we have made” re an interpretation of this IME’s point of view in a public presentation. Apparently “it is upsetting people who are coming to see [this IME]”. Never-mind that this very same IME keeps being reported to aworkcovervictimsdiary for ‘not so independent’ medical examinations (LOL).
What’s more, the lack of transparency is not limited to complaints made against these IME doctors to for example the AMA or Health Commissioner or AHPRA etc. It certainly appears that our own legal system also protects IME doctors and other so-called “experts” from past judicial findings (legal cases) or commentary that a particular IME doctor or expert was an advocate for one side, provided misleading evidence or was acting as an independent expert. For example, there is one particular IME who has had the following written about him by a judge in a recent, past legal case (see: Workcover Insurer & IMEs behaviour ‘disgraceful’ and ‘seriously alarming’ says Judge)
- There are a number of troubling features about this case.
- First, notwithstanding that every specialist in the case took a history that Mr Fogarty injured his back when the straddle crane he was driving hit a pothole, Dr Casikar (see profile on rateanmd) did not take that history. Instead, he seemed to have a history that Mr Fogarty’s symptoms started spontaneously at work with no provocation at all. Such a history was not consistent with Mr Fogarty’s evidence and was surprising, to say the least.
- Moreover, Dr Casikar’s assertion that Mr Fogarty’s symptoms could have developed at about the same time or the same stage of his life, irrespective of his employment, was unsupported by any reasoning and stretched credulity to breaking, bearing in mind Mr Fogarty’s age and the lack of degenerative changes in his spine, something that Dr Casikar expressly noted. The basis for Dr Casikar’s assertion is not clear. Moreover, Dr Casikar’s suggestion that the proposed surgery was for degenerative changes in Mr Fogarty’s back was inconsistent with the objective evidence and further undermined the doctor’s credibility as an independent medical examiner.
- These matters raise serious issues about Dr Casikar’s objectivity that warrant investigation into his status as a WorkCover approved impairment assessor.
- Second, the general conduct of this matter has been seriously alarming. Notwithstanding Dr Casikar’s opinion, his report provided no proper basis for Allianz, viewing the matter objectively and fairly, to deny the claim. A fair reading of the history of the claim demonstrates a perfectly consistent story corroborated by complaints to first aid and strongly supported by all the treating doctors and by several objective investigations, namely, a CT scan, MRI scan and a positive discogram. Allianz had no proper reason for denying liability and should not have done so.
All of the above commentary are about one expert retained by workcover insurance companies (in the above case: Allianz) in a legal action involving a genuinely injured person. Notwithstanding that these judicial findings are public, rumour has it that in any subsequent case, the IME doctor cannot be confronted with these past judicial findings. These past findings are kept secret from the jury/judge/arbitrator hearing the new case and we believe that it is most unfair.
We believe that in order to better protect injured workers, the laws should allow a so-called IME expert (for the Defendant = workcover insurer) to be seriously questioned about his/her past complaints, any investigations and definitely, past judicial findings. After all the injured worker’s entire life is usually scrutinised and exposed, which includes anything the defense can find in an attempt to discredit the injured worker; i.e. a decade old speeding fine!
For now, keep rating your experiences with IMEs! And send us any legal cases or articles you may have found regarding the IME, so that we can maintain a sliver of transparency!
Injured worker shares info about another “rogue” IME
Recently an injured worker was kind enough to share some information about another rogue IME T Entwisle. In doing so, the injured worker stated s/he hopes it may be of some use.
I’m sure you are aware of what his victims are saying here:
I searched the Australian Legal Information Institute and found Entwisle has been before the courts for factual errors in his report.
The applicant won.
Another hearing in the supreme court is also listed for Entwisle against his long-term buddy from medical school
in the 60’s. Ian McGoldrick, yet another rogue doctor.
They have both left families devastated with their medical incompetence and each made a handsome profit doing so.
Now these two par*sites have a failed property business venture worth millions leaving hundreds of investors out-of-pocket.
I find it hard to believe this is the first time Entwisle has been involved in business dealings with McGoldrick.
I am waiting for the day this rogue is struck of the medical register like his buddy Ian McGoldrick and in the media spotlight publicly named and shamed for the par*site he is, writes the anonymous injured worker.
[Post dictated by WCV and manually transcribed on her behalf]