An Explosion of Paper

March 1, 2013

A ream of paper weighs 2.5 kg, how do I know? Well, last week I weighed the paperwork of all the claimants I had seen that week. It came to 15 kg! Admittedly one of them was a desktop review and the paperwork for that weighed 7 kg alone, I was sent it the previous week but had no time to get to it until last week.. So I was sent 3000 pages (approximately) to wade through. On talking to my colleagues I realised we are all facing this avalanche of paper. The impression I get is that there is no culling process, rather a junior person is sent with a file and told to photocopy it and ‘send it off to Epstein’. Some of the paperwork includes hospital notes with handwriting that is frequently illegible and with acronyms that are unintelligible. With the tendency for health groups to be set up even the heading on the paper gives no indication as to where the person was at the time,  in a hospital, a mental health clinic, or where?

I was able to decipher some of the acronyms using the Internet. I have similar problems with the acronyms used by other health professionals. It took me some time to work out what a SLAP lesion was. (It is something to do with a split in the labrum surrounding the shoulder joint.)

There are several points arising from this, one is I never get paid for the amount of time I spend reading this paperwork. The second is that a lot of the paperwork is quite useless, the third is that the only people who seem to write a reasonable history are the psychiatrists. It is amazing the number of reports I receive that are undated so I have no idea when the claimant saw that person. It is not uncommon to get an undated report from a psychologist that may mention the first interview date but gives no idea of the frequency of the treatment or if the claimant is still being treated, but there are three or four pages taken from the DSM IV giving the diagnosis!

I have adopted a few tactics to deal with this. I do not read handwritten notes because most of the them are illegible and an incredible waste of time. I charge for the number of pages I’ve been sent. I dispose of all the documentation provided immediately after the report has been released (it is physically impossible to keep this stuff) and I encourage people who send me work to be a little more selective.

I would be interested in your experiences in dealing with this avalanche.


Leave a Comment