Posts Tagged ‘Disability’

New Jersey Courts: Zero Tolerance, Zero Compassion

Friday, February 24th, 2012

You have to feel sorry for Erik Martin. He went to work for Quick Chek Corp in 1999 as an assistant store manager. He was promoted to store manager in the summer of 2000. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease that same year. After informing his supervisor of his diagnosis, she advised him to keep his illness “hush, hush.” Martin complied, and never mentioned his illness to the company’s HR director. Martin missed work in 2004 and 2006 due to two mini-strokes and took a two-week leave of absence in 2007 because of depression. Despite his formidable physical difficulties – unrelated to work – he returned to work as soon as he was able.
In March 2008, Martin requested and received a demotion because his medical condition, combined with the lack of an assistant manager, precluded him from satisfying his work obligations. Later that same month, Martin injured his back at work. He contacted his doctor, who instructed him to take a darvocet that was previously prescribed to Martin’s mother-in-law. Martin visited the doctor the following day, at which time he was prescribed percocet to manage his pain.
Drug Policy
In keeping with company policy, Martin was drug tested two days after the injury. A few days later, he was contacted by the testing facility. They asked him to disclose the medications he was taking. He told them about his prescriptions, including the percocet, and also informed them about the darvocet he took on the day of the injury. Because he tested positive for darvocet without a prescription, the testing company reported a failed drug test and Quick Chek terminated Martin.
A reasonable person might think that Martin was in compliance with the company policy. He took a pill at the verbal direction of his doctor. Was this a “prescribed” medication? Well, that’s where a problem arises.

The word “prescription” comes from the Latin “praescriptus” compounded from “prae”, before + scribere, to write = to write before. Historically, a prescription was written before the drug was prepared and administered.

It appears that a “verbal prescription” is an oxymoron: if it isn’t in writing, it isn’t a prescription. [NOTE: the court ruling did not even address this issue.]
The HR director testified that his decision to terminate Martin was based on the failed drug test. He further testified that in his thirteen years managing human resources for Quick Chek, he never made an exception to the company’s zero-tolerance drug abuse policy. The director also stated that he was not aware of Martin’s Parkinson’s disease until this litigation commenced.Thus Martin’s termination was consistent with company policy. And in the view of the court, the termination was perfectly legal.
The court wrote:

Unquestionably, the company’s drug policy was enforced in a harsh fashion against Martin. The company relied completely on the assessment of the testing company that Martin “failed” the drug test. Quick Chek operates in such a way as to delegate total discretion to interpret the drug test results to the testing company. Once deemed to have failed the drug test, an employee is terminated without exception with no apparent right of appeal. In Vargo v. National Exchange Carriers Assn., Inc., 376 N.J.Super. 364, 383 (App. Div. 2005), we held that a company need not investigate possible legal reasons for a positive drug test before taking action with regard to a prospective employee; nor should such a duty exist with respect to existing employees. NJLAD is not offended by a private company’s lack of compassion in these circumstances.

Note how the court starts with a precedent involving a job applicant and then applies it to a loyal employee of long standing: “nor should such a duty exist with respect to existing employees.” The court may not see any difference between an applicant and a loyal employee, but I do.
No Room for Compassion
The court “is not offended by a private company’s lack of compassion.” Well, I am. Zero tolerance policies back companies into a corner; their rigidity may eliminate the need for discretion, but in doing so, these policies also eliminate many good employees. A little discretion in the hands of good managers is a powerful tool toward building a positive work culture. By contrast, zero tolerance policies may provide an illusion of control over matters that are difficult to control, but they are not an effective way to run a company (or a school, for that matter). Indeed, the policy makes it difficult for the company to fulfill its promise as a great place to work:

Quick Chek is proud to be one of NJ’s Best Places to Work! With 2,600 team members in over 120 stores, we strive to create a positive experience and fun environment where core values are nurtured, hard work is rewarded and leadership is cultivated.

I wonder what Erik Martin thinks of the company’s “core values.” When his illness prevented him from doing his job, he requested and was granted a demotion. When his illness prevented him from working, he took (unpaid) time off and focused on recovery. When he was injured at work, he followed his doctor’s orders and his company’s procedures. Martin’s loyalty and perseverance are admirable qualities, but they did not buy him much in the corporate offices of Quick Chek or the courtrooms of New Jersey.

Tools: video presentations on RTW, disability management & more

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

The Disability Management Employer Coalition is a non-profit dedicated to advancing strategies and resources that improve workforce productivity by minimizing the impact of absence and disability. The organization offers a variety of tools and research materials – and we’ve just discovered a stash of video clips on a variety of topics from recent presentations. We think they are well worth checking out – here’s an index:
Best Practices in Return to Work
This presentation is from the Leadership Series, an employer-only, focus group approach to the investigation of high-profile issues. This 6/23/2011 session (Length: 1:16) deals with Return to Work. Employers share best practices in both work-related and non work-related situations that can be easily incorporated into a company’s culture. it also explores common characteristics of several programs and identifies the pros can cons of plan design.
Stress & Resiliency: Applying Research of Employer Best Practices @ Your Workplace
From the “Tools & Tactics” webinar series, 6/09/11, length 1:01
A report on research conducted in collaboration with DMEC, the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, and other organizations. Study participants included multidisciplinary representatives from 40 different workplaces, and offers specific examples from employers and strategies for applying best practices at your company.
What If There Were a Money Pill? Financial Security & Workplace Wellness
From the “Tools & Tactics” webinar series, 5/26/11, length 49:42
Dr. Ron Leopold explores both the financial and wellness aspects of disability and how it affects recovery and RTW. Learn how you can implement small changes to make the process run smoother and insure employees avoid costly disability events.
Absence, Wellness and Engagement: A Critical Link
From the “Tools & Tactics” webinar series, 5/12/11, length 57:27
What do patterns in absence and disability tell us about the health status of our workforce? And what can we do it about it? This talk Explores the results of research done at Nationwide Better Health to quantify the true impact of costly health risks and tells how several employers are getting results from a proactive management approach.
Johnny’s Not Back at Work?: Corporate Strategies for the Less Than Motivated
From the Virtual Education Forum, 5/10/11, 1:12
The Virtual Education Forum is a series of web-based sessions where employers and service providers share their knowledge and first-hand experience in developing and running a successful disability and absence management program. This session deals with calibrating the likelihood of a successful RTW will be presented along with corporate worker’s compensation and disability case studies applying a unique motivational model.
Managing Absence in Recessionary Times: Research Update
From the “Tools & Tactics” webinar series, 4/28/11, length 1:04
This session offers findings from Mercer’s 2010 Absence Management Survey
I thought it could never happen to me
From the “Tools & Tactics” webinar series, 4/21/10, length 49:47
Dr. Ron Leopold on the emotional and financial impact of disability.
ADAAA Update: What the First Cases and New Regulations Tell Us
From the “Tools & Tactics” webinar series, 3/31/11, length 1 hour
This annual update provides insight into the implications of recent case law as well as offering suggestions on how to insure your program is set to respond appropriately.
Upcoming events
To learn about upcoming DMEC events, check the DMEC Virtual Education Forum events and the Tools & Tactics Webinars. Events are free to members; nonmembers can also attend for a reasonable fee.

Disability’s Digital Switch

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Up until recently, Peter Orszag was the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. As he leaves this job for a presumably more lucrative position with Citibank (no comment), he offers a final op ed piece in the New York Times on the subject of disability: specifically, the sharp rise in applications for SSDI benefits that has accompanied the collapse of the economy. Discouraged job seekers, many with obsolete or atrophied skills, try to qualify for a program that will take them out of the job market forever.
Currently, about 750,000 people apply for disability benefits every quarter, a rate 50 percent higher than that of four years ago. Orszag fears the consequences of burgeoning disability rolls: it’s not only expensive, it’s counter-productive. Once on disability, people rarely return to the workforce, even when jobs become plentiful. They “qualify” for benefits by proving themselves incapable of productive employment.
The fundamental question for SSDI is similar to the one faced by workers comp practitioners: once an individual qualifies for permanent benefits – usually a long, drawn out process – is there any way to encourage a return to work? Or is eligibility for disability, by definition, a self-fulfilling acknowledgement that employment is no longer a possibility?
The Digital Divide
Orszag speculates that the problem may lie in the rigid determination of disability: once disabled, always disabled. There is no middle ground where an individual’s limitations might be re-assessed periodically, where incentives for taking a job might encourage less dependence upon disability payments.
Orszag believes that we need some kind of interim program, less absolute in its determination of disability and less of a drag on public resources. He recommends privately funded, interim disability protection for non-work related disabilty (which would run parallel to the benefits already available through workers comp). The new program would last up to two years, during which both the employer and the worker would have strong incentives to return the disabled worker to productive employment. For workers who remain disabled at the end of the two years, application for SSDI would probably be in order. Under this model, the digital switch is made analog, with options and incentives all along the way. The cost? He estimates a relatively modest $250 per worker per year, assuming, of course, that all workers are included in the program.
Conundrum
Disability is indeed a conundrum: it requires people to prove that they are incapable of productive employment. The stage for this determination is strewn with detritus: the perverse incentive to prove one’s lack of ability; the ever-changing economy, which casually discards workers with obsolete skills without a hint of compassion; the notion that disability is a permanent state, which, once entered, precludes the possibility of growth and change.
All too often, disability intersects with the law of unintended consequences. By seeking to protect those who cannot protect themselves, we place people in the awkward position of proving their inability to function in the working world. There is very little incentive to do otherwise. We set disability up as a locked room, with no exit. We need to think of disabiility as a bridge, arcing out of the darkness toward new possibilities. While most who are disabled may never be able to cross this bridge, those who can must be given every opportunity to make the journey.

Battlefield medicine: technologies that may yield benefits for injured workers

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Last week, our nation honored its veterans for service rendered to the country. Although belatedly, we join in offering thanks. One could make the case that our nation’s gratitude should be a 365-day-a-year tribute rather than largely confined to a single celebratory day. On returning home, many veterans face an enormous hurdle, the day-in-day-out battle of finding employment, a formidable challenge for any vet but made even more difficult in the current economy. Beyond an expression of appreciation, there are many good reasons why employers should hire vets. The U.S. Department of Labor has collaborated with Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), and other federal agencies to offer a Step-by-Step Employer Toolkit for Hiring Veterans.

In addition to their military service, there is another debt that we owe to our vets, particularly those who have been wounded physically or psychologically. It is one of life’s great ironies that war, which is responsible for so much death and destruction, is also a catalyst for the advance of medicine and medical technologies.

Just as weapons become more sophisticated, so too do the medical technologies designed treat the wounds that these weapons exact. From wars in ancient times to the present, civilian medicine has been advanced by battlefield medicine, first practiced on wounded warriors.
advanced-prosthetics
Wired Magazine has been one of the ongoing sources we turn to get our fix about battlefield advances in medical technology. A recent article – Military’s Freakiest Medical Projects – is a fascinating case in point, highlighting advances in prosthetic limbs, skin grafts, burn repair, bone cement, suspended animation, and more. The article’s intro explains that “Some of the Pentagon’s extreme medical innovations have already debuted in the war zone. And with myriad applications outside of combat, these advances in military medicine mean that revolutionary changes for civilian care aren’t far behind.”
Another recent article – Exoskeletons, Robo Rats and Synthetic Skin: The Pentagon’s Cyborg Army – focuses on technologies that foster recovery, such as neurally controlled prosthetics, or that enhance performance, such as wearable exoskeletons that amplify amplify troop strength and endurance.

As exciting as these developments are, not all effective treatments rely on advanced technology – some are reassuringly “old-school.” A case in point is this heartwarming story about vets with PTSD who train service dogs as companions for vets in wheelchairs. The dogs do double duty, serving as therapy dogs for those with PTSD while they are being trained, and later as helper dogs for those confined in wheelchairs. You can learn more about this most excellent program at Paws for Purple Hearts.
And if you doubt the healing and restorative power of dogs, we leave you with this evidence: an incredible compilation of clips of dogs welcoming home soldiers. One warning: have a box of tissues nearby!

The Tolls of Bell: Corruption in California

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Most of us associate a determination of disability with the inability to perform some or all aspects of a job. But most us do not work in Bell, California.
When former Bell police chief Randy Adams agreed to leave his job as chief in Glendale and run the department in Bell, he entered into an unusual agreement with city administrator Robert Rizzo. The agreement stipulated that Adams was disabled, suffering from the lingering effects of back, knee and neck injuries sustained in his prior public safety jobs. His attorney, Mark Pachowicz, said the agreement was designed to ensure that his client would not have to fight Bell for a medical pension.
Lest you think that Bell simply had an aggressive “hire the handicapped” program, it appears that Adams was able to perform all the duties of his job, with no accommodation required. In other words, this “disabled” hire was indistinguishable from able-bodied applicants for the job. There was a single stipulation of “no heavy lifting” – for a job which required no heavy lifting.
An Offer He Could Not Refuse
Rizzo considered Adams so capable, he hired him into two positions: police chief and special police counsel. Bell was so anxious to secure Adams’s services, they offered him $457,000 a year, double his prior salary. The hiring agreement qualified Adams for a tax-free disability benefit of $205,000 per year. Oh, did I mention that the hiring agreement also provided lifetime health insurance for Adams and his dependents, with no vesting period? Sure, that sounds like a pretty generous package, but Rizzo himself was pulling down $787,000 for taking on the burdens of managing the relatively small (pop. 40,000) working class town.
During his prior employment, Adams settled a workers comp claim for $45,000, following back surgery. He returned to work after a two week absence – which makes the amount of settlement appear rather generous. The comp settlement, however, is chump change compared to the irrestible benefits of working for Bell.
Fortunately for the beleagured Bell (and California) tax payers, this entire corrupt edifice came crashing down with the arrest of Rizzo and his numerous co-conspirators. (Adams has not been charged.) The status of Adams’s questionable hiring agreement with the city remains unresolved. As spokesperson for the California Public Employee’s Retirement System Ed Fong put it: “You’re only supposed to receive a disability retirement if you are disabled and unable to perform the normal duties of your job. If that is not the case, it would be fraud.”
In Bell they called it “standard operating procedure.” It was lucrative while it lasted. But the bell has tolled, bringing to an abrupt end a corruption scheme of All-American proportions.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): in the workplace and in the field

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

The Brain Injury Association reminds us that March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, so it was timely to see that our colleague Peter Rousmaniere has an important piece on brain injury recovery in the current issue of Risk Management magazine: Gray Matters: The Employer’s Role in Brain Injury Recovery. It is important for two reasons: it sheds light and hope on the issue of traumatic brain injuries and the improved prospects for recovery, including return to work; and it serves as an illustration of some important differences between workers compensation and group health
The article notes that each year, 50,000 Americans die of a traumatic brain injury and 235,000 are hospitalized. There really aren’t good statistics to tell us the prevalence of work-related brain injuries. Although there are better statistics available for what Rousmaniere calls “the signature wound of today’s wars,” many think that the estimate of 320,000 war-related traumatic brain injuries may be on the low side.
The good news, as Rousmaniere documents with examples, is that with proper medical care there have been great advances for a type of injury that was once written off as lost cause: “In the past, many adults with work-related traumatic brain injury were simply warehoused. But with advances in treatment and care strategies, including an employer that is ready and willing to help in gradual return to work, many survivors of severe brain injury can regain most of their former way of life.”
Part of the challenge is early identification, rapid response, and aggressive treatment early in the injury, and aggressive recovery goals. Patients who are treated in the workers comp system, where care is often managed and coordinated and where insurers and employers aggressively advocate for recovery and return to work, often have an advantage over those patients treated under group health. With workers compensation, employers/insurers have financial responsibility for the life of a claim and, therefore, more incentive to work towards maximum recovery. Rousmaniere cites a case manager who says, “You have a workers compensation brain injured patient who is in the same hospital room as a nonworkers compensation patient, and the difference in resources is like night and day.”
Rousmaniere cites examples of successes, along with best practices that contributed to those successes – including the important role that the employer can play in maximizing recovery, some of the challenges that occur, and some of the best practices:

As with all successful brain injury recoveries, job coaching is a critical phase that demands employer participation. Rehab counselors often make the trip with the worker back to her or his workplace. Memory failure, a signature feature of brain injury, is sometimes best treated, in part, at the physical site of the employer. So for several months, the vocational specialist helps the worker find ways to organize the day, reinforce memory and work with others. In this way, the patient’s prospects for recovery are greatly improved.

Department of Defense embarks on more aggressive brain injury screening program
Rousmaniere discusses the prevalence of war-related TBI and some of the promising medical advances. He cites the recovery of reporter Bob Woodruff, perhaps one of the cases that we are all most familiar with due to the news coverage. After returning to his job as a reporter, Woodruff became an advocate for our soldiers in the field, developing a ReMIND, a foundation to provide resources and support to injured service members, veterans and their families.
In speaking of his own recovery, Woodruff praised the quality of the care and support that he received, but saw with dismay that such treatment and recovery resources were not always available to service members with similar injuries. He saw the military culture as often stigmatizing or impeding screenings, and treatment options being limited once a vet returned home. That’s why the Department of Defense’s recent policy announcement is such welcome news: head-injury evaluations will be mandatory for all troops who suffer possible concussions. Moving to an incident-based response is a significant change from prior protocol, which depended on service members to self-identify with a complaint. The weakness in this approach is that service members are highly mission-focused and can shrug off complaints that can later prove to be serious problems.
America’s Heroes at Work is a U.S. Department of Labor project that addresses the employment challenges of returning service members living with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The resources and links pages are particularly helpful – and a good resource for employers who are working with either vets or non-vets who are recovering from TBIs.
TBI resources
Brain Injury Association of America
Survivors’ Voice
Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide
Brain Injury Resource Center

On redefining disability

Monday, March 1st, 2010

When is a worker disabled and unable to do his or her job? This is an issue that surfaced in a recent post about an employer that was reluctant to make workplace accommodations for employees who had been injured on the job but who wanted to return to work. This case came to mind again after viewing a presentation by record breaking athlete Aimee Mullins. In her most recent appearance at the TED conference, Aimee delivers an outstanding talk that properly redefines the word ‘disabled.’ The video clip is about 22 minutes, but it’s guaranteed to be one of the best things you see this week. Here are a few excerpts that we liked:
“It’s not just about the words, it’s what we believe about people when we name them with these words – it’s about the values behind the words and how we construct those values. Our language affects our thinking and how we view the world and how we view other people.”
“…we have to make sure that we don’t put the first brick in a wall that will actually disable someone. Perhaps the existing model of only looking at what is broken in you and how do we fix it serves to be more disabling to the individual than the pathology itself. By not treating the wholeness of a person, by not acknowledging their potency we are creating another ill on top of whatever natural struggle they may have.”

More about Aimee Mullins
TED profile – with links to additional presentations she has made
Aimee Mullins website
Aimee Mullins on Wikipedia

Emerging technologies: Freedom legs, bionic fingers, gastric condoms

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

It’s been some time since we’ve made a foray into one of our favorite topics: emerging health technology, particularly in the area of rehabilitative and assistive technologies. We’ve compiled a few stories that we found fascinating and promising. If you enjoy them and and would like to read more, we point you to the following excellent sources: Always: Medgadget and MassDevice. Sometimes: Wired and Gizmodo.
Throw out those crutches
Crutches are an awkward and uncomfortable so we are delighted to learn about the Freedom-Leg, an “off-loading prosthetic,” which allows users greater mobility. The device allows a user to avoid putting any weight on the injured foot, ankle or knee, but keeps the strength in the upper muscles of the injured leg.

Bionic fingers
If you are advancing in years as I am, you will remember TV’s popular Six-Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. Yesterday’s fantasy is today’s reality, giving powerful new potential to amputees. Prodigits is a prostehetic device for partial-hand amputees who are missing one or more fingers. Bionic or self-contained fingers that are individually powered allow users to bend, touch, grasp, and point.

Gastric “condom” for obesity, diabetes treatment
A recurring topic here on the blog is the debilitating impact of comorbidities such as obesity and diabetes on the recovery process. Obesity is frequently also a contributing factor to a work-related injury. Recently, we’ve seen some controversial court decisions mandating that employers foot the bill for gastric by-pass surgery for workers who are recovering from work-related injuries.
A new temporary device, the EndoBarrier Gastric Bypass, holds promise for helping with weight loss. The device is implanted endoscopically via the mouth, creating a chamber in the stomach which limits the amount of food a patient can digest. A prior story showed the device had positive results in clinical trials.
enn2344.jpg

New Cavalcade of Risk; other news briefs

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Nancy Germond is hosting this week’s Cavalcade of Risk at her blog, Insurance Copywriter. She should get hazardous duty pay – she tells us that it is 113 degrees by noon on any given day in Phoenix – yikes. Nancy’s post covers topics as diverse as damaged guitars, dog health, and – of course – the health care debate. By the way, you can find more risk-related articles authored by Nancy at AllBusiness.
Other news notes
As we noted previously, Roberto Ceniceros has been attending the Disability Management Employer Coalition annual meeting and has been posting about the meeting on his blog. We found one item that he wrote about in Business Insurance of particular interest: his report that Harley Davidson is using functional assessments to reduce workers comp and disability claims among new hires and in its return-to-work programs. Hanover, Md.-based BTE Technologies Inc. provides the electronic functional assessment testing system and accompanying software and evaluates worksites to perform physical-demand analyses. The “…system evaluates attributes such as range of motion, dexterity, grip strength, lifting ability and tolerance of certain positions. Employees are measured by pushing against a column, lifting weights and other efforts matched to specific job requirements that are recorded electronically.” The company estimates savings of nearly $260,000 in workers comp claims costs by preventing new hire injuries alone, which doesn’t encompass the other benefits and savings from the disability and RTW components.
In Risk and Insurance, Peter Rousmaniere launches a three-part series on health issues facing veterans as they return to the workplace. His first post tells the story of one Sgt. Stephen Kinney of New Hampshire, ho was the victim of an IED explosion on the outskirts of Camp Anaconda in Iraq. Among injuries, Kinney sustained brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that left him unable to resume his prior job as mail carrier.
NIOSH Science Blog posts about safe and health green jobs and tells us that, with its partners, NIOSH has launched a Going Green: Safe and Healthy Jobs initiative. The note that as America moves towards energy efficiency and more environmentally-friendly practices, it is likely that there will be changes to traditional jobs and the creation of new kinds of occupations. The purpose of the initiative is to eliminate hazards in the green jobs through planning, organization, and engineering – a concept known at NIOSH as Prevention through Design (PtD).
Supporting Safer Healthcare posts that U.S. News & Word report has issued its 2009 list of best hospitals.
The Ohio Department of Insurance has a new web address – update your bookmarks accordingly: www.insurance.ohio.gov/ (Please note – we had previously said that it was the Ohio Bureau of Workers Comp that had a new web address but we were wrong – that stays the same: www.ohiobwc.com – sorry for any confusion!)

Health Wonk Review, help for paraplegics, crane safety, PBM shakeups and more

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Health Wonk Review – David Williams has a snappy new edition of Health Wonk Review posted over at Health Business Blog. Because HWR took a little summer hiatus last week, this issue is packed – and it’s all organized in a great format that allows for quick and easy scanning. David’s witty summaries are fun – check it out, it’s a good edition.
Cool development in assistive technology for paraplegics – Radi Kioff is a 40-year-old Israeli who spent the last 20 years in a wheelchair after being shot in the back while serving in the Israel Defense Forces. The video in this post shows him walking and climbing stairs with the help of a light wearable brace called ReWalk, a system designed to help paraplegics regain mobility. The system is undergoing clinical trials in Israel and scheduled to begin US trials in November. It’s great to see such a promising development for those who have suffered spinal chord injuries. (Thanks to Medgadget for the pointer.)
Crane fatalitiesrawblogXport points us to the story of an eyewitness account from one of the workers who escaped in last week’s LyondellBasell’s crane collapse that killed 4 workers and injured 7. The article’s sidebar recounts the number of crane accidents so far this year. Celeste Monforton posts more on this and other crane fatalities at The Pump Handle.
PBM shakeup – Joe Paduda has the skinny on PMSI’s recent sale to investment firm HIG. Find more detail in his post PMSI sale – the numbers.
Disgruntled claimant on trial for murder – When you’ve worked in insurance for awhile, you know that a lot of anger and tension can surface around money matters, even more so when things reach a litigation stage. And many a claims manager can cite a litany of stories about angry calls or threats from disgruntled claimants who feel they’d had a raw deal. A story from California today reports on the trial of a claimant who shot and killed his own attorney two years ago. Angus McIntyre was very angry at his workers compensation settlement. He had reportedly threatened and harassed his claims adjuster in e-mails and voice mails on numerous occasions and apparently also held his attorney responsible. One evening he walked into that attorneys office and shot him in the head. Terrible story, and a sad reminder that violent threats must never be taken lightly.
Provider jailed for fraud – It’s 12 months jail time for a New York social worker who double-billed insurance companies to the tune of $102,000 for health care services. A health care provider may bill two insurance companies for the same treatment, but is obligate to disclose the double billing and cannot keep amount beyond 100 percent of the cost of the service. The conviction is not surprising, but I can’t recall too many insurance fraud cases that result in jail time. It’s also a reminder that fraud comes in many flavors – it is not synonymous with “employee.”
Fall protection – Brooks Schuelke posts an overview of fall protection systems at InjuryBoard.com. Falls are one of the most common source of injury and death in construction work. (Related: our prior post on human fall traps)