Ghosts, Goblins and Mediators

Halloween is just around the corner, a time when people love to be scared. It’s fun, because everyone knows there’s really nothing scary at all.

Mediation isn’t scary. Yet some Workers Compensation professionals fear it.

Fear of losing control
Adjusters and attorneys know their jobs. They may bristle at the idea of someone else getting involved in the settlement process. Yet, they don’t hesitate to call in other experts.

Workers Compensation professionals retain control in mediation. Only the parties can choose an outcome. The mediator cannot order anyone to take any action. What the mediator can do is help parties define issues, resolve differences, and see new routes to settlement.

Fear of looking bad
Some Workers Compensation professionals worry that calling in a mediator makes them look like they couldn’t do their job. On the contrary, professionals who use every tool in their arsenal look smart. Referring a claim for mediation can short-cut litigation, saving time and money. This makes you look like someone who knows how to get things done.

What are you scared of?
You don’t need a costume, and you don’t need a candy bucket to get started.  Treat yourself to mediation to move that difficult case forward.  Mediation can benefit all parties, and that’s no Halloween trick.

How Medical Identity Theft Affects Claim Resolution

Medical identity theft occurs when a thief obtains treatment using the victim’s social security number or health insurance identification number. Authorities also report arrests of care providers who have stolen medical identities and submitted bills for treatment they never performed.  Cyber-attacks on medical data have produced a market for this kind of information.
Treatment 
A theft victim’s biggest risk is improper medical treatment due to provider reliance on an incorrect medical history. The victim could end up with a transfusion of the wrong blood type, an incorrect prescription, or ineffective treatment tailored to the wrong facts. If inappropriate treatment of an industrial injury results in the need for further medical care, the additional care will also be an industrial treatment expense.

Payment for Treatment 
Injured workers may not know their medical identity was stolen until their treatment request is denied. When medical records show non-industrial causation of the subject condition, a carrier may deny treatment. Records might also show a prior industrial claim for the condition now under review. If the injured worker denies such prior treatment, medical identity theft could be the cause of the discrepancy.

When an injured worker claims medical identity theft is the reason for a record of prior treatment, record reviewers should pay close attention to notes of contact information for the patient and family members, height, weight, age, and other telltale features which could confirm or weaken a claim of medical identity theft.

Employers facing a claim of medical identity theft will have to use a rule of reason and tread carefully. As with other denials, once the injured worker starts treating non-industrially, the employer loses control of the treatment and may end up paying much more than if the condition had been treated within the Medical Provider Network.

medical-identity-thief
Apportionment
When the injured worker sustained a prior disabling injury, the percentage of disability payable on the current claim will be apportioned. But what if that prior injury was to someone else using the current claimant’s identity? Parties will need evidence about the prior injury and treatment including the injured worker’s actual location and activities on the relevant dates.

Liens
Given the market penetration of some medical providers (such as Express Scripts), a claim could trigger issues relating to bills incurred for stolen treatment. CMS might respond to a submission for MSA approval with a reimbursement request for treatment provided to the thief.

Separating Medical Record Histories
The identity theft victim will bear the burden of cleaning up the medical record history, including notification to care providers, credit agencies and possibly law enforcement officials. This task is another source of stress at what is already a stressful time for an injured worker.

The employer needs a complete medical history relating to the industrial injury and usually obtains the relevant records by subpoena. Once the theft is discovered, new privacy issues may arise in obtaining those records.

What If The Injured Worker Is The Thief?
Sometimes an undocumented worker avoids detection until there is an industrial injury. Medical treatment planning can disclose a medical history at odds with the known facts of the injured worker’s life. In California, the injured worker will be entitled to treatment of the industrial injury. As with the identity theft victim, disentangling the two medical histories can complicate the treatment plan.