Doctors ‘lied’ to save money, injured worker claims

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Following an earlier post about “inconsitencies” and the sad truth that workcover will also “Google”you“,  I  “Googled” some workcover-related articles in the media and bumped on the following interesting story, which was featured on ABC News last year. In this story an injured prison officer said  doctors, selected by WorkSafe insurance agents, lied and falsely claimed she had been a rodeo rider in an attempt to save the compensation regulator money. “It’s not even the words I used. I said I had been involved in the rodeo association. I haven’t even ridden a bronco or a bull,” she said.

Sounds familiar? Bet it does!!!

WorkSafe compensation battle leaves injured prison worker emotionally ‘broken’

LH says she’s “broken” after years of fighting WorkSafe.

The 53-year-old claims she has been bullied and emotionally beaten by the regulator, while not being granted proper compensation for the neck injury she suffered in January 2012.

Ms H was working as a prison medical officer when she was attacked by a female inmate who struck her from behind, and then caught her before she hit the ground.

She said she once was an outdoors person who loved riding horses and fishing, but those loves have now been taken away from her.

It’s broken me, it’s taken almost everything out of me,” she said, holding back tears.

“I felt immediate pain but I didn’t know what it was. I’m stubborn so I didn’t go to the doctor.”

Ms H kept working for another 11 months until the pain became too severe, and she eventually discovered she had a broken neck.

Doctors ‘lied’ to save money, woman claims

Ms H’s problems became worse. After making a compensation claim to WorkSafe in November 2012, it took five months for her payments to begin.

“In that time, I couldn’t move. I was on my bed worried about how I would get out of this,” she said.

Lou Hunter's broken neck Photo: An X-ray of Ms H broken neck.

Ms H said doctors, selected by WorkSafe insurance agents, then falsely claimed she had been a rodeo rider in an attempt to save the compensation regulator money.

“It’s not even the words I used. I said I had been involved in the rodeo association. I haven’t even ridden a bronco or a bull,” she said.

Ms H said payments for surgeries were cut when a doctor said her neck injury was caused by whiplash almost 25 years earlier.

The payments were eventually reinstated and WorkSafe provided Ms H with a lump sum payout.

But she said the emotional turmoil drove her to the brink of suicide.

“I had to go through the public hospital system and for months I wasn’t getting the treatment I should’ve been getting,” she said.

In a bed-bound state, Ms H said she felt like a different person and lost a personal connection with her children — to the point where she felt she couldn’t go to them for emotional support.

“They were going through their own grief, they missed their mum,” she said, before she breaking down in tears.

Court battle to change medical reports

WorkSafe Victoria said it was unable to comment on Ms Hunter’s case.

(In 2016), the regulator was the subject of a scathing report from the Victorian Ombudsman following hundreds of complaints from injured workers.

The report found WorkSafe’s insurers gave staff bonuses for rejecting and delaying claims, and used corrupt medical examiners to deny that people’s injuries occurred at work.

Most of all, it was criticised for dragging claimants through the system, sometimes for years.

Ms H has now engaged lawyers in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to try to change what she says were falsified medical reports.

The case is at an early stage, and Ms H hopes to access additional compensation for psychological treatment.

“Now to be on $400 a week — it’s beyond hard,” Ms H said.

She said she was now back looking for work.

Liberty Sanger, a personal injuries principal and partner at Maurice Blackburn, said Ms H concerns mirrored the experiences of many other injured workers the law firm represented.

Their experiences are not isolated, unfortunately. People who’ve been injured at work are incredibly vulnerable and going through some of the most difficult times of their lives, yet they have to fight every step of the way for their legal entitlements,” she said.

A growing number of our clients are also developing secondary psychological conditions due to stress and anxiety of the WorkCover process.

“So much more could be done to reduce the length of time it takes to investigate and resolve workplace injuries claims so these people can get the treatment they require and get on with their lives as best they can in the circumstances.”

 

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