Worker’s comp wants me to see a psychiatrist.

Oh does this ring a big bell with me!  (This was another search that directed someone to my blog.)

I first met with my attorney in January of 2002.  After talking with him for some time he agreed to take my case and scheduled me to come back the next week to begin working on my case.  When I returned the next week I brought my mountains of paperwork, lab tests, doctors reports, etc.  Slowly we began to sort my papers out and schedule several more appointments to continue the task.  As we were ending  one of these appointments my attorney began discussing doctors that I would need to see.  He wanted to send me to a toxicologist and he said that I needed to see a psychiatrist.  I must have had a surprised look on my face.  After all, didn’t he agree to take my case?  Didn’t he believe that I was truly sick?  Why was he sending me to a psychiatrist?

My attorney informed me that this was standard procedure because my employer and their defense team would undoubtedly send me to a psychiatrist so we needed to have one as well.  The plan was to send me within the next few months.  As it turned out, I had to leave almost immediately for my first of three visits to the Environmental Health Center-Dallas before we made it to trial.  I was gone for three months and when I returned the defense had already scheduled me to see their psychiatrist.

I made the hour long drive to his office and was allowed to take the written test outside in my car.  When I finished I took the papers back in and was ushered into his office for the rest of the exam.  He began asking me questions, then his phone rang and he stopped me cold to take the call.  We started again and before long his office phone rang again and he stopped to answer the call.  I was told that he had a client that was in distress and he had to be available to speak with him/her.  I felt so put off because not only was this office not making me feel well and I still had an hour long drive home but his questions and my subsequent answers were continually interrupted by the phone.  Finally the appointment ended and I drove home.  The next day I followed up with my attorney about the appointment and how it had gone.

It was a year later before I managed to attend the psychiatrist for our side.  My girlfriend drove me to my first appointment which was about an hour and half away.  Once again I had to take all these written tests before speaking with the doctor.  I could tell that he had some understanding of what I was going through and my chemical and mold issues.  He even told me that hearing my story was making him anxious.  I had two more appointments with him before my trial.

The second trip was about the same distance but in a different town.  I decided that I wanted to drive myself to get over my fear of going to that city.  A few years earlier I had driven my daughter to the same area and gotten lost making a 2 1/2 hour drive home a four hour drive.  I was determined to overcome the fear of driving there.  During the second visit I became very distraught and started crying uncontrollably when talking about my children and what life was like with them before my injury and what it was like then because I couldn’t go or do anything with them.  The dear doctor asked me if I wanted to just go outside and walk around for a bit and then finish the appointment.  My daughter took a train ride into the town to see me and make sure I was alright to drive myself home.

My final trip was back to the first office I had seen my psychiatrist in.  My husband drove me there and decided to look around town while I was in with the doctor.  We only had one cell phone so I made sure he had it if I should need to reach him.  Again I had to take the written exams.  My health and emotional state had become worse since my last visit with him (two surgeries and a major medication reaction) so he wanted to compare test results.  I took the test and was almost finished when he called me in to meet with him.  He took my blood pressure and it was elevated.  I was having tremors, my voice was now crackly and I had begun coughing.  He asked if he was making me ill and I told him I didn’t know.  He took me back to the first room and rummaged through my bag for my inhaler.  Someone was ordered to call my husband and to sit with me until he arrived.

The result of all my psychiatric visits with our psychiatrist was that I was 90% disabled based on psychiatric testing.  I was a mess.  I was so depressed and just didn’t care what happened to me.

The point I am making is that the last thing an employer wants to do is pay workers’ compensation.  If there is a chance you have a psychiatric disorder or are a malingerer (someone who feins illness to avoid work), they might avoid paying or going to court.  So don’t be surprised if you are asked to see one.  Make sure that you have a good attorney who also has a good psychiatrist in his arsenal.

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8 responses to “Worker’s comp wants me to see a psychiatrist.

  1. When you have owned your own businesses all your life– & not paid your self a wage– only put the money back into the business– there are no benefits or unemployment–only for the people we hired!!!!! IT is sooo sad that MCS is a life threatening illness– the drug companies– & the chemical companies don’t don’t want anyone to stand up for & say they are causing the illness!!! My heart hurt for you & what you had to go through— soooo sad!!!

  2. It was a hard battle. I won and I didn’t win. See my post – when workers’ comp means nothing.

  3. It was disability, not workers comp, that sent me for a psychological evaluation. Because MCS is so misunderstood, it is assumed that it is all in your head. Many don’t understand that the isolation and physical challenges are what cause the depression. They think the psychological problems cause the physical problems. It is very devastating when doctors don’t know what to do with you so they tell you to get psychological help. Fortunately my psychological evaluation helped my case and helped demonstrate that my physical limitations are real.

    • The MCS is why they thought it was psychological for me to in workers’ compensation. I got my SSD early and surprisingly fast based on all my medical records. I have no idea what I was awarded it on. I had multiple chronic fungal and bacterial infections leading to surgery after surgery and IV antibiotics.

  4. I find it really inappropriate that psychiatric disorder and a malingerer are often lumped together when it comes to compensation and the workplace (actually the world). Sadly it is better to have a huge infection to put everyone at ease.

  5. I thought this was just fascinating. In my angsty teen years, I saw a psychiatrist a couple of times. I didn’t much like it. I had no idea they asked you to do that for worker’s comp. But hey, whatever it takes to make people “see” invisible illness, right?

    • I actually liked the psychiatrist for our side but hated the defense psychiatrist. The defense psychiatrist as I wrote was busier with his phone than with me.

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