Doctor calls WorkSafeNB practices a 'human rights' issue
Dr. Richard Dumais refuses to see WorkSafeNB patients
A senior pain specialist at a Moncton hospital is refusing to see injured workers because he says they stand no chance of getting their treatments approved by WorkSafeNB.
Dr. Richard Dumais, head of the Dr.-Georges-L-Dumont University Hospital's pain clinic, says the chronic denial of medical services has become a human rights issue and he's calling for political action.
Dumais, who has practised in New Brunswick for 22 years, said WorkSafeNB used to be okay to deal with, but in the past 10 years, they've stopped taking advice.
It's become so difficult and frustrating, he's been asking for an investigation from the minister responsible.
Four months ago, Dumais decided he won't take WorkSafeNB patients anymore.
He said it's not fair to tell an injured worker that he or she needs treatment, only to have it almost certainly rejected by WorkSafeNB.
"It's a psychological nightmare for these people. And rather than put people through that, at this point, I've decided it would probably be better if I don't see them at all," said Dumais.
WorkSafeNB evaluates patients with its own team of in-house professionals, including doctors, occupational therapists and other rehabilitation experts, said Lise Malenfant, WorkSafeNB, regional director.
Lowest rates in Canada
She said they are mandated to approve treatment related only to the workplace injury.
"I don't think the doctors are wrong. I think there is a misunderstanding. There's a misunderstanding of how the system works. And our medical advisors are there to try to explain that to them," said Malenfant.
When asked by CBC News if she thought doctors view WorksafeNB as an opportunity to address issues that go beyond the injury, Malenfant said she wasn't sure she would call it an opportunity.
"I just think that maybe — because they're not in our system — that they don't necessarily draw that line in the same place that we would draw that line."
WorksafeNB charges employers one of the lowest rates in Canada. It cut premiums by 15 per cent last year.
But money doesn't factor in claim evaluations, said Malenfant.
She said WorkSafeNB has never been told the number of claims it is approving is too high and that it needs to lower the number of claims.
She also said it has never received a bonus or been rewarded for having a low number of claims.
WorksafeNB said workers who get rejected can always appeal. The backlog has been reduced to a six-month wait and the success rate is around 90 per cent.