Dr. Launder, Maryland Orthopedics, and Two Sides to Every Story
If you have any relationship to workers’ compensation in Maryland, Dr. Launder’s public note should be read. You can find it here: http://drlaundersresponse.com/.
Here are eight specific points we feel anybody new to the workers’ compensation system should know:
- “Over the years, however, workman’s comp insurers tightened their control over patient care and required pre-approval for any procedure or test that costs more than $300.”
- “Frequently patients were sent for independent medical evaluations (IME) to other orthopedic surgeons who were paid by the insurance company and who very often denied our recommendations for treatment. This left the patient out of work, unable to receive treatment, and cut off from his unemployment benefits.”
- “Fair and prompt treatment was secondary to Insurer’s profit.”
- “…we never discharged a patient until his case was medically resolved. This often took three or four years due to the cumbersome bureaucracy. We continued this segment of our practice because we felt the patients and their injuries were no different from any others. These patients were typically police, fireman and teachers who deserved top notch medical attention.”
- “Under the [adversarial, as it became after 2000] system, the initial MRI as well as further treatment was usually denied, delaying progress for months or years. By this time the patient was often reliant on pain medicine, out of work, and their treatment remained in bureaucratic limbo.”
- “The delays added up to several years for a seriously ill patient. Payment for our services was only made after the workers’ comp commission authorizes each and every item in the patient’s bill. If the insurer felt a service unnecessary they refuse payment despite orders from the Workman’s compensation Commission.”
- “IWIF has a group of paid “Independent Medical Examiners,” physicians who routinely reviewed our cases and often denied all of our treatment. These physicians received aggregate payments of several hundred thousand dollars per year for seeing these IME’s. IWIF would then use these opinions to deny our treatment even when it had been approved by the Workman’s Compensation Commission.”
- “The fee schedule for payment of doctor’s treatment of injured workers became lower over the years, and therefore fewer and fewer orthopedic surgeons were willing to treat them.”
Workers’ compensation, as an industry, has a lot of competing interests. There are doctors, insurers, attorneys, commissioners, the State. And lest we forget, there are actually injured workers. Workers who worked in jobs usually designed for the profit of others. Others who weren’t doing the dangerous work. But don’t listen to us. Ultimately, we believe the system is skewed against injured workers, in favor of the interests of large insurers. It’s why we represent injured workers.
The only thing we want from you, dear reader, is to go in with your eyes open. Read the decision being appealed. Read the response. And if you are an injured worker, at least speak to counsel, even if you don’t retain a workers’ comp lawyer. It makes sense to understand who has interests adverse to yours.