Central West Health & Rehabilitation
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10 Reasons Why Injured Workers become Chronic Claims Mar 20th, 2014
Some injuries take longer to heal due to the nature of the injury and management. However following are 10 psychosocial factors that lead to poor workers compensation outcomes. 

1. They Choose the Wrong Doctor

Just because the Family Doctor got them through the coughs and colds it does not mean their Dr is equipped to best treat their work-related back injury. Best practice in the management of workers with soft tissue injuries includes early return to work and advice to stay active and yet many Nominated Treating Doctors persist in certifying these patients with no work capacity. This results in deconditioning, detachment from the workplace and distress for both the worker and employer. It is important to realise the Health Benefits of Work.

A Doctor skilled in Occupational Health is Vital

2.Their Employer Does Not Take Control of Injury Management and RTW

In the absence of a well trained and supported RTW Co-ordinator and effective injury management and return to work procedures an injured worker chooses their Family Doctor as the Nominated Treating Doctor that is the first mistake.  The second one is to for the Employer to totally rely on the Agent to drive the process.

3. Referral to Rehabilitation is Delayed

It’s a fact the earlier an injured worker gets assistance to return to work the better the outcome.  Clearly this makes good business sense as someone sitting at home with an injury is not thinking good thoughts not to mention the impact on the NSW employer’s premium.  However the it does appear to improve outcomes for patients also.

4. The System Makes Them Sicker

Liability is obviously a big issue in the workers compensation system meaning injured workers might have to attend a raft of assessments that can overmedicalise their condition.  So what might have started out as a simple injury starts to feel like something very serious.  In any case if you are not back at work then you need to prove that you actually cannot work that entrenches the sick role.  Sadly too there is often no-one on the team telling them otherwise.

5. They Lack the Health Literacy to Make Themselves Better

Injured workers can tend to not ask questions of their Doctors as they are used to doing as they are told and after all it is a common assumption Doctors do leap tall buildings and catch speeding bullets in their teeth.  Some Doctors might even speak with God.  Low health literacy reduces the success of treatment and increases the risk of medical error.

6. Pain must mean there is Something Seriously Wrong with Me

The evidence that tissue pathology does not explain chronic pain is overwhelming and yet injured workers who have been badly managed and managed themselves badly end up in this hopeless cycle of inactivity and inaction for fear they will make themselves worse.  Some even have needless surgery because that’s what their Doctors suggested – refer to the assumption of speaking with God.

7. They Want to be 100% Better

We all age and our bodies endure wear and tear so when an injury happens there might be underlying features that made the worker prone to such an injury and in fact it easily could have happened at home where there would be no liabiity.  The issue is aches and pains go with wearing out and 100% better is not achievable.

8. They Think the Employer Should Pay

Anger can be a big factor in Chronic Pain.  My employer did this to me and I am going to make them pay.  It’s a pity the injured worker can trash their own life in the process.

9. They Persist with Unhelpful Treatment because the Employer is Paying.

It’s like the company car that goes from reverse to first at 50 kph if someone else is paying the bill then you won’t be judicious about what are the benefits and the value of what you are getting.  Poor health literacy also does not help.  Persisting with passive physiotherapy for example even makes you worse as you decondition and it entrenches the sick role.

10. Some People Don’t want to Go Back to Work

Sadly a workers’ compensation lifestyle can very quickly and easily prevail.  You don’t have to perform and you get to pick up the kids from school so the by the time your pay drops it is not such an issue and anyway you have sort of painted yourself into a corner.