Psychiatric Impairment Assessment in South Australia – a dog’s breakfast

Psychiatric Impairment Assessment in South Australia – a dog’s breakfast

June 23, 2015

The South Australian government has chosen to use the GEPIC both for motor accident claims and for workers compensation claims. This should make life simple however legislation is not that easy. The changes to the Civil Liability Act have incorporated the system called Injury Scale Values from Queensland (apparently originally from the UK) that is a means of converting impairment into what I would regard as disability. See the Regulations. It is up to the medicos to determine impairment and then on the basis of their assessment together with a variety of other factors a person is given an ISV number that determines whether or not they gain access to a variety of other benefits including economic loss, noneconomic loss, so-called loss of consortium and access to other services. This has meant that the use of the GEPIC changes if one is assessing a South Australian ReturntoWork claim as opposed to a South Australian MAC claim.

What does this mean in practice?

For a South Australian ReturntoWork claim the usual procedure, as with any method of psychiatric impairment is followed. That is, one determines the whole person psychiatric impairment and then eliminates impairment unrelated to the work injury that is either pre-existing or has occurred since the work injury and also eliminate impairment caused by “Consequential Mental Harm” that means impairment secondary or consequential to physical injury, one is left with a percentage figure due to Pure Mental Harm, in other words impairment that is not secondary or consequential to physical injury. This is all fairly straightforward.

Because of the nature of the legislation with the Motor Accident Corporation those apportionments have to be done before you actually get to work out the level of impairment. In other words you must strip out impairment unrelated to the accident, impairment due to “Consequential Mental Harm leaving you with symptoms as a result of “Pure Mental Harm” such as from post traumatic stress disorder. You then determine the class of impairment for each of the six mental functions, only taking into account those symptoms arising from Pure Mental Harm. The median class is then regarded as the GEPIC rating. The GEPIC rating is then used to determine the ISV Item number ranging from, at the lowest 13 to, at the highest, 10. Each item number has a range of numbers within it but it is not for the psychiatrist to determine that.

I have now run two training sessions with regard to the South Australian ReturntoWork method and one with regard to the Motor Accident Impairment Assessment Scheme. It is interesting that in all three sessions using cases in groups there has been considerable consensus. Impairments assessments will commence on 1 July 2015 so it will be interesting to see what transpires.


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