Generally speaking, and as for example outlined in the Independent Medical Examiner – IME – Sevices Standards, (in Victoria) a doctor hired to examine a patient/injured worker on behalf of a workcover insurance company ((or employer), does not establish a (standard) doctor-patient relationship. However, we believe that there are times when at the very least, a limited duty to the injured worker (patient) may well exist in some circumstances! And that the IME in question could potentially be sued for liability (i.e. malpractice)!
The workcover insurance company (who is defending your workcover claim) has a right to have a doctor (an independent medical examiner) of its own choice examine the injured worker. The logic of this general rule cannot be questioned. However the manner in which so-called “independent medical examinations” (IMEs) are carried out is often fraught with controversy, and it’s important that you know that you can refuse to see a certain IME in certain circumstances!
Although 5 years ago, it is worth re-publishing that The Hon. A. Bressington stated she had been approached by a number of constituents on WorkCover, who have been required by their case manager to appear before Dr Doron Samuell, a fly-in “independent medical examiner” from New South Wales. Each has alleged that the behaviour of Dr Samuell was intimidating and bullying, that he inappropriately filmed meetings without seeking their permission, that there was yelling and finger-pointing, and that he behaved in a threatening manner towards the injured workers.
You may remember the case of former PM Julia Gillard’s house keeper’s workcover claim for an injury she sustained to her back while straining to fit a sheet on Julia Gillard’s king-size mattress in 2012. The house keeper had initially some issues with her claim, also re-injured herself and now it turns out that she was accused of “fraud” by means of surveillance. However recently the AAT overturned the decision of Comcare to cease her claim for compensation. The article gives some worthy tips re surveillance.
WorkSafe Victoria (WorkSafe) regularly “review the quality” of Reports obtained from Independent Medical Examiners (IMEs) through what is called the Quality Assurance Program (QAP). Although theoretically a “reassuring” program, don’t be fooled!
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.
A journalist working for a well-known TV Channel is working on a story and came across our site. S/he is looking for teachers that have been assessed by two well known (notorious) IME psychiatrists.
Many IME Psychiatrists, even those who testify for workcover insurers avoid diagnosing psychological / psychiatric conditions related to injured workers’ trauma. They generally do this by deliberately avoiding any tests that were designed to assess the injured worker’s mental condition in question. Is it any wonder the IME finds no evidence of for example, PTSD or major depression when s/he doesn’t even test for it?
Fact, quite a few independent medical examiners (IMEs) often attempt to minimise the injured worker’s condition and allege the injured worker is “exaggerating” his/her pain. Some claim or imply that the only thing that will cure you is money. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to countless other injured workers. I have amused myself compiling a list of questions we should ask those ignorant IMEs. For example: “Dear IME, if money cures the condition and takes away the pain, then does that mean that you regularly prescribe “money” to your own patients suffering from these same conditions? Enjoy!
Let’s just imagine that we are a doctor or specialist and that we’ve accepted to treat an injured worker.Who is really making the medical/surgical decisions about our injured workers? Shouldn’t the workcover insurers at least share the liability or at least bear the responsibility of their own actions or lack thereof?