This is a case from the Worker’s Compensation Commission of NSW that everyone working in Occupational Rehabiliation or Injury Mangement should be aware of. It is a NSW case but the same law potentially applies in other states.You can read the transcript here.
It has important implications for the management of injured workers’ cases and their rehabilitation.
Ms Davis worked as a sales administration clerk for Cadbury Schweppes Pty Ltd (Cadbury). She injured her back and neck when she fell from a chair in the course of her employment on 23 August 2000. She was pregnant at the time of the injury and give birth soon after. She did not receive any treatment while on maternity leave. The claim included a claim for a psychological damage arising from the management of the single injury.
Return to Work
She made several unsuccessful attempts to return to work with her pre-injury employer and otehr employers. She was provided with treatment at a later stage but was also placed under survailance. She was referred for an exercise physiology program which she claimed was inappropriate. There is no mention in the transcript of the case, of the involvement of a rehabiliation provider.
There are a number of references to the insurer’s management of this claim.
Deputy President Bill Roche states (83) that he agrees that Ms Davis had good reason to feel frustrated and harassed and overborne by the administrative acts of the insurer.
He makes that point that it is irrelevant the the psychological condition did not occur as part of the original injury and that her employment was not a contributing factor.(96) He states that the psychological condition arose out of the management of the claim (97) and is therefore a consequence of her original injury sustained on 23 August 2000. He states that she is therefore entitled to be compensated.
Hang on minute!
Okay, let’s just stop and think about that for a second. Here are Deputy President Roche’s exact words “Ms Davis’s psychological symptoms developed in 2005, not 2008, and the evidence from Ms Marshall clearly linked those symptoms to her physical injuries and the claim for compensation for those injuries. The management of a claim for compensation is as much a part of the claim as the treatment for the injury.” (97)
So the management of the claim was the actual cause of further damage. The damage casused was a period of total unfitness followed by ongoing partial unfitness. Very expensive for the inusrer (not to mention the injured worker!)
What does this mean?
The management and rehabilitation of compensation cases is critical. Not only does good case management and rehabilitation assist the person to make an optimal recovery but, as this case shows, poor management can actually cause additional damage which can be severe. This is what you call a loose/loose situation!
Please let me know if you have any comments on this case. In particular, have you ever seen a worker or claimant bullied or do you feel that severe management of a claim is neccessary at times. Please have your say in the reply section below.
Update on Australian Occupational Therapy Association CPD Requirements
In response to the Occupational Board of Australia announcing its CPD requirements which are quite different from the Associations requirements, the Association no longer requires compliance to its CPD programme. You can read about it here.