The following post was submitted via the Guest Post section of this blog:
Dear Injured Workers,
I am writing today in the hope that I can help assist and protect many of you from the unethical and at times illegal behaviour of many workcover insurers. I myself was a victim of this disgusting and corrupt system from 2010-2014. That is maybe a story for another day.
Today I wish to inform injured workers of a very disturbing incident that happened to my injured wife. This occurred due to the appalling behaviour of a so-called Mobile Return to Work Specialist with a workcover insurer.
My wife has a very serious back injury due to her work and has had no capacity for any work since injuring same in October 2017. The claim was accepted, surgery eventually approved and is now 8 weeks post surgery and still in significant pain from the surgery and multiple lumbar disc injuries. As many of you would already know this is a traumatic time and one which takes its toll on the entire family concerned.
As I have indicated earlier my wife has NO Capacity for any work at this stage which is confirmed by her treating GP, Neurosurgeon and IME report. As of this month, her pay will be 20% less than her normal wage. I am sure that you all can appreciate how difficult that is for families as many of you would be in a similar or even worse situation. With my own workcover case, I had no weekly payments for about 18 months due to being sacked 3 days after submitting my claim form.
As you can imagine the insurer is only focused on getting my wife back to work. This is where this serious privacy and doctor-patient privacy issues have arisen. A Workcover insurer Return to Work employee without my wife’s written or verbal consent, called her treating doctors medical practice and booked a 30-minute Medical appointment/Case conference in my wife’s name. This is a serious breach of her privacy (See Section 13 G of the Privacy Act.) It is also a violation and serious invasion of my wife’s doctor-patient privacy.
As mentioned earlier my wife had given no written or verbal consent to any employee of this workcover insurer to make such appointments, in her name, or to discuss personal medical information with her Doctor without her consent and without her being present. This applies equally to an injured workers Employer.
The orignal workcover claim form that you sign in no way authorizes or gives your consent to the Insurer/Employer for such behaviour.
Once hearing of this serious breach of privacy my wife called her treating doctor/practice and cancelled the appointment made by the Gallagher Bassett employee. She then advised her GP and his staff that no such appointments are to be made in her name without her consent and that this practice should cease. As you can imagine we were furious, as was her doctor and the matter has caused her significant anxiety and distress.
We have filed written complaints re the actions of the Return to Work employee and to Gallagher Bassett and other authorities. Please remember that a signed authority to release medical information on a claim form in no way gives the Insurer/Employer the authority to conduct themselves in the above manner. Yes, they have access to your medical information from your treating doctors. This should be done using the appropriate channels ie: by requesting and paying for a written update on your medical condition and treatment from your doctor. The Insurer/Employer has no legal right to book or attend an appointment with your treating doctor or any IME appointments without your consent.
Please make sure that you advise your treating doctors to protect and respect your doctor/patient privacy. If you are notified by any insurer that they have booked a medical appointment/case conference with your treating doctor, without your consent, then PLEASE cancel the appointment. They have no legal right to do this. Please protect your rights.
From my investigations, this is a scheme/stunt started in South Australia.
You obviously should seek your own legal advice relevant to your claim. (As we did) & protect your rights.