The charms of Europe, the gifts of the Victorian TAC and WorkCover people-requirements for the contents of psychiatric reports.

June 10, 2013

Travelling through Europe over the last month was physically exhausting but mentally refreshing. In particular I enjoyed the Hundertwasser Museum in Vienna, an extraordinary architect, well-known in New Zealand for designing the best public toilet I have ever seen. The other highlight was wonderful untouched art nouveau building in Prague called, boringly, the municipal house that has every art nouveau details you could imagine and is to die for. Fortunately it contains a beautiful cafe and restaurant and a large auditorium in which we listen to Mozart and Strauss.


Now back to work! One of the things that greeted me when I returned was a form describing requirements for psychiatric reports by Victorian WorkCover and the Transport Accident Commission for quality assurance purposes. I have enclosed a link to this form. When I first looked through this I could see no major problems but I had occasion to look at it recently and became much more concerned. Items 1-4 seem unexceptional. There appear to be no items 5, 6, 7, or 8.

Problems are with items 9 and 10.

Item 9, The summary formulation.

Item 9.4 “including evidence to support or change the plan, based on best practice ( what is best practice with regard to some of the conditions we see such as chronic pain syndrome, adjustment disorder, I could go on.); item 9.7 strategy to aid or improve safe return to work (in most claims for psychological injury there has usually been a breakdown in the relationship with the employer, how is this relevant in that context.

You are also assessed as to whether or not you have made a recommendation to provide the report to the treating health practitioner. I do not understand why that is relevant. If this is a question that has been specifically asked then you will respond to it but why should you otherwise?

(Ironically there is no question asked referring to the examiner’s views about other opinions, this is a usual part of what I do.)

Unless these questions are specifically asked they will not be answered but this summary formulation seems to indicate that they should always be answered whether or not they had been asked.

The other issue is with 10. RESPONSES TO SPECIFIC QUESTIONS. This states “To ensure the report is a stand alone document, each question should be retyped in full as detailed in the referral request, and comprehensively addressed”.

For years we have been asking the claims agents to send their questions in an electronic form so they do not need to be retyped, this is particularly so because each claims agent asks different questions. To retype all these questions is a waste of time, this now codifies that the claims agents do not need to go to the trouble of sending out these questions in an electronic format.

I am a member of the Victorian AMA VW A/TAC committee and we have been asking them for years to do this. We have also been asking that they cut back the number of questions. There were about 32 questions that were being asked. They agreed to this but what they have done is asked a question is with four parts to each question keeping the original 32.

I have discussed by concerns with the Victorian branch of the AMA and they will write a response along the lines I have suggested.


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