If you have been unfortunate enough to have suffered a psychological or psychiatric injury or illness at your workplace, once you start down the workcover claim path, you will soon realise that this is when your nightmare will truly begin. Once your workcover agent receives your claim, they will do just about anything to find ways to either deny or reduce your benefits. One of the unsavoury tactics used by the workcover insurer is to send you to independent medical examinations.
Grilled by a workcover independent doctor psychiatrist IME – Answer like a politician
Your workcover insurance company will start by sending you to a so-called “Independent Medical Examination” IME. In the case of a psychological injury, you will be sent to a psychiatrist IME for an assessment of your mental health. The psychiatrist IME is hired by the insurer to assess whether your workcover claim has any “substance”. That is, whether it is “valid”. As we have highlighted countless times, workcover insurance companies are driven by “damage control mode” (greed) and will go out of their way to cherry-pick the psychiatrist IMEs whose opinions they prefer – Those who are in favour of the workcover insurer, those who help save money for the insurer.
Grilled by the psychiatrist independent medical examiner – what not to say at an independent medical examination
When you are sent to your insurance company’s preferred psychiatrist IME s/he will grill and interrogate you, mainly about your past in an attempt to find anything that provides an alternative explanation for your current mental distress/injury. This means that if you suffered, for example, from post-natal depression 10 years ago, the psychiatrist and the insurer will try their hardest to blame that on your current psych injury! The same applies if you, for example, suffered a childhood trauma or even went through a difficult divorce. Or worse, they may just blame your current distress on your genes!
“I will never ever forget this one Psychiatrist IME who tried so hard to blame my secondary serious depression on the fact that my mother did not visit me! I was freshly operated again, with one leg in a cast, and one arm in a sling had lost my career and my hobbies and felt extremely depressed because I had been told my injuries were very severe and permanent. At the time, my mother was living overseas and she was old and frail, certainly too frail to fly a long distance to come and visit me. I was an adult, we used Skype and Facebook, video calls, emails and messenger… Yet this horrible psych IME wrote in her report that I was depressed because of my mother not being able to visit me. I nearly fell off my chair!” writes an injured worker.
“The Psychiatrist I was sent too was so cold and rude, he asked me about my parents. I told him my father had died when I was a child. He asked me how he died. I told him my father had died in a car accident when I was 11 years old. He asked me if my father was alone in the car. I said yes… to which he jumped and told me that, in that case, a suicide could not be ruled out! To my horror, the report stated that my depression was due to my father’s suicide and that it was likely genetic. I was so upset. My father did never commit suicide. He was hit by an out-of-control car, by a young person who was intoxicated!” another injured worker told us.
How does one deal with such WorkCover psychiatrist independent medical examinations?
As the title states: grilled by a Psych IME – answer like a politician! This is the only thing you can do to protect yourself from a grossly biased psychiatrist IME report!
No matter what the IME asks, try to stay focused on what really happened to you AT WORK. Keep turning the conversation back to what happened recently at work. That’s how politicians answer questions they do not want to answer!
So pretend you are a politician and are being interviewed by A Current Affairs Journalist. If you pay attention you will see that politicians answer any question with an answer that focusses on their own agenda. They do not answer the actual question they’re asked.
So, if the psychiatrist independent medical examiner asks you about your divorce, you could answer like a politician and say something along the lines that the divorce happened 8 years ago, and that it wasn’t easy (what divorce is?)that you are a strong and positive person and that you went on to flourish quickly, and tell the IME that … it’s more important that he knows that your colleague molested you 3 weeks ago and that you have panic attacks, nightmares and can’t sleep from it (and that you don’t see what your divorce has to do with this).
So you turn the question around and bring the focus to what happened to you at work.
Hope this helps!
‘My life turned into a nightmare’: dealing with WorkSafe’s insurers
The Age – 2016 (https://www.theage.com.au/national/my-life-turned-into-a-nightmare-dealing-with-worksafes-insurers-20160910-grde80.html)
There was no single incident that led to Mr A’s unravelling. For two decades, his job brought him face-to-face with the kind of misery and heartache most Melburnians have never seen.
The former government outreach worker is haunted by images from the streets of the city and St Kilda: the nine-year-old prostitute, the 12-year-old drug addict; young children who were desperate, many who he couldn’t help.
“I can’t remember how many kids I know who have been killed,” he says.
“And I felt responsible for making sure they were safe. I’ve chased cars, stood in front … to stop them driving off with children who were sex-working. I’ve been stood over. I can’t tell you how many death threats I’ve had. It isn’t the sort of job you can win, but you just kept trying.”
Haunting flashbacks consumed him slowly. Anxiety, anger and suicidal thoughts became daily realities.
Then Mr A entered the WorkCover system (the insurance provided by WorkSafe) after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and quickly realised his struggle had only begun.
“Soon, the WorkCover agent conducted an investigation into my injury and I had to see their psychiatrist,” he recalls.
“They agreed I had PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), but said it wasn’t to do with work, and wasn’t WorkCover’s responsibility, and offered no other explanation.
“It’s financially extremely stressful. I’m unemployable but I need to pay for medication that I need every day and [for] seeing my psychologist. I’ve had to borrow money, my partner has had to change jobs.”
Mr A, 42, says the agent’s decision was final and he felt they “just wanted me to go away”.
“It took me 12 months just to pick up the phone to talk to a lawyer … they whole process is anxiety-provoking,” he says.
“It feels like the system is set up to push as many people as they can to just give up, to think its too hard.”
Mr As psychologist, Dr X, of Melbourne University’s psychiatry department, said his client’s case of work-induced PTSD was clear-cut, and there was nothing in his personal history that could have caused the injury.
“If his WorkCover claim was accepted, he would be better by now, because I could have applied the kind of treatment and frequency of treatment required,” Dr Z said. “By rejecting his claim, WorkCover has further injured this man.”