Ithaca Surgeon Faces 12th Malpractice Lawsuit Since 1996!

 

Dr. David Schwed

Dr. David Schwed

The Ithaca Voice newspaper has just uncovered some startling information about an Ithaca-area surgeon: The doctor has been sued for malpractice 12 times in Tompkins County Court since 1996, according to records reviewed by reporter Jeff Stein.

cayuga logoThe latest lawsuit, filed Oct. 22, shows that Dr. David Schwed was sued in late October by Donna Diconstanzo for complications related to a laparoscopic colectomy, which involves the removal of a portion of the large intestine, according to Stein.

The lawsuit states that Schwed performed a laparoscopy on DiCostanzo that “resulted in significant disfigurement, scarring and the removal of covering up of her belly button.”

The lawsuit also notes that the Cayuga Medical Center website states: “At Cayuga Medical Center, we want your surgical experience to be as safe, comfortable and stress-free as possible.”

This comes despite CMC’s awareness that “Dr. Schwed has numerous medical malpractice claims and a history of payments that establish that surgical experiences conducted by Dr. Schwed are not safe, comfortable, and stress-free as possible,” the lawsuit states.

This lawsuit is ongoing.

The Voice reported that Schwed has made four payments in civil litigation since 2009, two of which were for the above-average amount, according to state records.

Only 1 percent of doctors made four or more malpractice payouts in 15 years according to data from the 1990s and 2000s, said Public Citizen, a national consumer watchdog group.

At least three lawsuits are ongoing, raising at least the possibility of a fifth payout. Only 0.5 percent of doctors had five payouts or more in the 15-year period surveyed in the Public Citizen report.

The Cayuga Medical Center, where the surgery occurred, is named as a defendant in the October lawsuit, as is Surgical Associates of Ithaca.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe

Dr. Sidney Wolfe

Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen told The Voice that the number of Schwed’s malpractice payouts should raise concerns with state officials and the Cayuga Medical Center.

Schwed has faced no disciplinary action from state officials, according to records.

“It’s multiple payouts against someone, and the (state) medical board doesn’t seem to be doing anything,” said Wolfe, whose expertise on malpractice has been cited by CBS News, the New York Times and other national publications. “The question is, ‘Why haven’t they done anything?’”

Wolfe said it’s important for patients to be informed of the malpractice histories of their doctors.

“Letting people know about well-established facts about a doctor — including malpractice payouts … is part of a public health responsibility of a reporter,” Wolfe said.

“One might at least raise the question, ‘Would some of the people injured since then not been injured had the medical board acted on these four cases that are between 3 and 5 years old?’”

To see the history of civil litigation against Dr. Schwed, click here.

Thanks for reading!

Christina Sonsire
[email protected]


With Rise In Accidents, NY Woodworking Lawyer Urges Table Saw Safety

Woodwworkers should look into investing in a table saw from SawStop.

As an avid woodworker (my wife says too avid!) and injury lawyer who has seen way too many people hurt in way too many ways, I am always concerned about woodworking safety.

I have an uncle who is a constant reminder of what can easily happen when working in the workshop. My uncle is a good, safe, competent woodworker who is missing a good portion of a finger because of a woodworking accident that happened literally in the blink of an eye. He wasn’t doing anything unsafe and was doing what he had done hundreds of times before, but nonetheless he lost a big chunk of a finger.

In my quest for greater safety, I recently purchased a new table saw featuring a finger-saving technology called SawStop.  Essentially, this is a saw that has an incredible technology built into it that causes the whirring saw blade to be stopped in milliseconds if there is any contact between the blade and skin.

Sure, the SawStop saw costs a little bit more than other comparable table saws, but when you consider the pain, disability and whopping medical bills that result from a table saw accident, that small additional expense is chump change.

I bought my SawStop from Brian Kita of Hermance Machine Co. in Williamsport, PA. Brian was awesome to deal with and he had this to say about the SawStop saw:

We handle a lot of manufacturer’s products here, and I have to tell you, this is the only product line we carry that makes such a difference in our customers’ lives. They sell through recessions and they sell when schools have no budget money. People have come to us straight from the emergency room with bloody bandages covering what’s left of their fingers to write me a check for a SawStop. I’ve taken calls from pros angry that they need a cartridge that seemingly blew for no reason, only to have them call back and excitedly tell me that as they wrote out the purchase order, they found a small smear of blood from where they contacted the blade but never even felt it. Yeah, SawStop has something unique, and they could probably charge a whole lot more for it, but I’m grateful that they don’t.

Having now assembled my SawStop saw, I am pleased to report that not only does it feature incredible safety technology, it is also, by far, the most precision-machined, well-engineered piece of power woodworking equipment I have ever owned.

My point of this post isn’t intended to serve as an advertisement for SawStop — it is intended to reach out to my woodworking friends to encourage them to very carefully consider ALL aspects of safety, which would include consideration of the latest, greatest safety technology.

The alternative — doing nothing, using an old, unsafe table saw — is not wise. According to an October story by The Associated Press, the U.S. government says about 10 people EACH DAY lose a finger or get their hand mangled by unsafe table saws! That is remarkable!

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has started looking for ways to reduce injuries. The agency estimated there were more than 67,000 blade-contact medical injuries in 2007 and 2008, costing more than $2 billion.

Table saw makers say those numbers don’t reflect the new products like SafeSaw. So we’ll keep track of this story and watch for newer figures from the government!

In the meantime, be safe out there!

Thanks for reading.

Thanks, Jim

_________________________________

James B. Reed

NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer

Ziff Law Firm, LLP

Mailto: [email protected]

Office: (607)733-8866

Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)

Web: www.zifflaw.com

Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and

NYBikeAccidentBlog.com


NY Accident Lawyer Offers Do’s & Don’ts for Insurance Medical Exams (IME)

MME035In a previous post here on the NY Injury Law Blog, I explained the truth about “Independent” Medical Examination (IME) with the insurance company’s doctor. In the original post: “IME Doctors Change Diagnoses for Insurance Company Exams”, I explained how some doctors deliver the diagnoses that the insurance companies want – because the insurance companies pay fees to the doctors.

If you bring an injury lawsuit or file a no-fault claim in New York or Pennsylvania, the insurance carrier has a right to have you examined by a doctor of their own choosing. This is usually referred to as an “IME” which is an acronym for “Independent Medical Examination.” Don’t let this phrase fool you. There is absolutely nothing that is “independent” about this examination.

An IME is an examination paid for by the insurance company with the hope that they will be able to get ammunition from their doctor that will permit them to terminate or minimize their obligation to fully compensate you for your injuries.

Because these exams are NOT “independent,” I refer to an IME as an “INSURANCE Medical Exam.”

Let’s face it, the insurance company is sending you to THEIR doctor with the hope that they may show you are not as disabled as your doctor says. This is a Dr. who is paid a lot of money by the insurance company to tell them exactly what they want to hear: namely, that you are not injured.

Therefore, the “independent” medical doctor who you are going to see will try to show that you are exaggerating, malingering, magnifying your symptoms, or just pretending.

I wouldn’t represent you if I thought that you were guilty of any of these situations. Nevertheless, sometimes doctors make a “mountain out of a molehill” because they are conditioned to believe that most claimants are malingering, pretending, or exaggerating. Some doctors automatically find, and will testify that the results of their examination indicate that you are malingering, pretending, etc.

The defendant’s doctor is listening to EVERYTHING you say and watching everything you do. He will dictate a report of what he sees and hears immediately when you leave his office.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT YOU SHOULD NOT DO OR SAY AT INSURANCE MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS:

Don’t lie. Ever. A single lie can undermine your whole case.

Don’t try to outsmart the doctor. You can’t do it.

Don’t drive yourself to the visit. Try to have your spouse, friend or neighbor drive you.

Don’t talk about your accident, injuries, insurance company or case in elevators, common areas or doctor’s waiting room.

Don’t wear dangling jewelry or earrings.

Don’t jump on and off of the examination table at the doctor’s office.

Don’t come in tight jeans or cowboy boots.

Men, don’t come unshaven.

Ladies, don’t come with make-up on or wearing high heels.

Don’t leave the doctor’s office in a running trot or quick walk and jump into your car, because the doctor is probably watching you from his or her window.

Don’t use medical jargon or fancy terminology when discussing your case or describing your symptoms.

If you are complaining of a neck injury, don’t twist your head back and forth when the doctor is moving about the room in an effort to follow his movements.

Don’t discuss money or any plans of retirement with the doctor.

• Don’t discuss your marital situation with the doctor unless the exam is for a psychological injury. Your marital situation is not relevant to the present examination. This is a physical examination.

Don’t exaggerate your problems. Be truthful, but conservative. On the other hand, don’t minimize your problems. Just tell it like it is.

Don’t moan, groan and wince or grimace in pain every time the doctor touches you. No matter how lightly or heavily the doctor may touch you, be natural, be yourself, tough it out as best you can. However, if what he is doing hurts you, honestly tell him that he is hurting you.

Don’t ask the doctor for medication or pain pills.

Don’t talk about your labor union to the doctor.

Don’t talk to the doctor about the insurance carrier, attorneys or the adjusters.

If you have a bad back, don’t bend down and untie your shoes. Wear loafers and kick them off/slide them on.

Don’t allow the insurance company’s representative to be in the examining room with you when the doctor examines you. Simply explain to the doctor that you deem physical examinations to be private and would like to have the representative leave the room. Be polite and sincere when you say this.

Do not discuss with the doctor the amount of your claim or the amount of wages you used to make. Politely decline to do so by saying that the insurance company has that information.

Do not discuss with the doctor whether you have any hearings coming up on your case.

Do not discuss what you deserve for a settlement or your plans for spending the money you may get.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT YOU SHOULD DO OR SAY AT THE INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS:

Be honest and cooperative with the doctor.

Be pleasant. At the same time, you should not behave in such a fashion that the doctor can say you were laughing during the examination.

Be concerned. Be serious. Be polite. Give the doctor accurate, but brief, history on how your accident or injury occurred.

Give the doctor an accurate history of your job details and what you do in terms of lifting, bending, stooping, carrying, and walking.

• If the doctor asks you about any previous injuries or illnesses you had before the present one, be honest and tell him the nature of any injuries you had, and whether you had surgery in connection with those previous injuries. On the other hand, do not volunteer information.

• If the doctor asks if you have had any previous workers’ compensation claims, you should say to him, “I’ve had previous workers injuries” (if that is true). However, you should always disclose any injury whether it is work related or not if the doctor asks you for a previous history of injuries.

Be aware that the doctor is sometimes performing the same test on you in more than one fashion and in more than one way. For example, the doctor may test your legs when you are sitting up and when you are lying down. This is the same test. Therefore, if you complain of pain inconsistently, the doctor is going to make note of it. Don’t try in any way to magnify or exaggerate your pain. Let the truth come out and we will obtain a more favorable report from the doctor. If you exaggerate your pain, or if you are inconsistent, or if you try to impress the doctor with the significance of your pain, this will only give the doctor ammunition with which to hurt your case.

If you are totally disabled, explain to the doctor that if there was any way you could be back at work, you would be there.

If you have a long work history (a long history is 5 years or more) emphasize to the doctor that you have worked for this employer for a significant number of years and you would like to get back to work.

If you have a short history of work with the employer and you enjoyed your job, explain to the doctor that although your employment with this employer was brief, you enjoyed working there and would like to return to work.

• When you are giving a history to the doctor as to how the accident occurred, please mention all injuries that you suffered as a result of this accident. For example, if you mainly injured your back when you fell, but you also hurt your knee, mention that you hurt your left or right knee (as the case may be). If, when you tried to stop your fall you pushed out your hands, mention that your primary pain is in your back, but you tried to break your fall with your hands and you also bruised them.

Remember, the person who tells the doctor that he/she does absolutely nothing all day is less likely to be believed than a person who says, “I try to be active or I try to do some chores, but I suffer for it the next couple of days.”

Finally, ask the doctor to send a copy of his or her evaluation to your treating doctor.

IMPORTANT: IME doctors will often exaggerate the time they spent questioning and examining you. To combat this, it is imperative that you keep track of the time you spent with the doctor. Do not be obvious about doing so but glance at your watch so you can accurately advise us of the times.

ALSO IMPORTANT: As soon as you are home, sit down and write down every detail you can recall of your exam (i.e. time spent with a nurse or doctor, questions asked by the doctor and your answers, tests performed by the doctor, etc.). We understand that you can’t remember everything but just do the best you can.

If you have any questions your IME, contact us. The Ziff Law Firm even has a videotape to help clients prepare for an IME. Please contact our office for a consultation, and check the post “IME Doctors Change Diagnoses for Insurance Company Exams” to be forewarned about this important part of your injury case.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions,
Jim
_________________________________________
James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866  Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
mailto:[email protected] http://www.zifflaw.com

E-mail me at [email protected] for two free books:
NY Car Accidents and NY Car Insurance Secrets YOU Need to Know.

Your “Independent” Medical Examination (IME) with the

Insurance Company’s Doctor

If you bring an injury lawsuit or file a no-fault claim in NY or Pennsylvania, the insurance carrier has a right to have you examined by a doctor of their own choosing. This is usually referred to as an “IME” which is an abbreviation for “Independent Medical Examination”. But don’t let this phrase fool you. There is absolutely nothing that is “independent” about this examination. This is an examination paid for by the insurance company with the hope that they will be able to get ammunition from their doctor that will permit them to terminate or minimize their obligation to fully compensate you for your injuries.

Because these exams are NOT “independent”, I refer to an IME as an “INSURANCE Medical Exam”.

Let’s face it, the insurance company is sending you to THEIR doctor with the hope that they may show you are not as disabled as your doctor says. This is a Dr. who is paid a lot of money by the insurance company to tell them exactly what they want to hear: namely, that you are not injured.

Therefore, the “independent” medical doctor who you are going to see will try to show that you are exaggerating, malingering, magnifying your symptoms, or just pretending.

I wouldn’t represent you if I thought that you were guilty of any of these situations. Nevertheless, sometimes doctors make a “mountain out of a molehill” because they are conditioned to believe that most claimants are malingering, pretending, or exaggerating. Some doctors automatically find, and will testify that the results of their examination indicate that you are malingering, pretending, etc.

The defendant’s doctor is listening to EVERYTHING you say and watching everything you do. He will dictate a report of what he sees and hears immediately when you leave his office.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT YOU SHOULD NOT DO OR SAY AT INSURANCE MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS:

· Don’t lie. Ever. A single lie can undermine your whole case.

· Don’t try to outsmart the doctor. You can’t do it.

· Don’t drive yourself to the visit. Try to have your spouse, friend or neighbor drive you.

· Don’t talk about your accident, injuries, insurance company or case in elevators, common areas or doctor’s waiting room.

· Don’t wear dangling jewelry or earrings.

· Don’t jump on and off of the examination table at the doctor’s office.

· Don’t come in tight jeans or cowboy boots.

· Men, don’t come unshaven.

· Ladies, don’t come with make-up on or wearing high heels.

· Don’t leave the doctor’s office in a running trot or quick walk and jump into your car, because the doctor is probably watching you from his or her window.

· Don’t use medical jargon or fancy terminology when discussing your case or describing your symptoms.

· If you are complaining of a neck injury, don’t twist your head back and forth when the doctor is moving about the room in an effort to follow his movements.

· Don’t discuss money or any plans of retirement with the doctor.

· Don’t discuss your marital situation with the doctor unless the exam is for a psychological injury. Your marital situation is not relevant to the present examination. This is a physical examination.

· Don’t exaggerate your problems. Be truthful, but conservative. On the other hand, don’t minimize your problems. Just tell it like it is.

· Don’t moan, groan and wince or grimace in pain every time the doctor touches you. No matter how lightly or heavily the doctor may touch you, be natural, be yourself, tough it out as best you can. However, if what he is doing hurts you, honestly tell him that he is hurting you.

· Don’t ask the doctor for medication or pain pills.

· Don’t talk about your labor union to the doctor.

· Don’t talk to the doctor about the insurance carrier, attorneys or the adjusters.

· If you have a bad back, don’t bend down and untie your shoes. Wear loafers and kick them off/slide them on.

· Don’t allow the insurance company’s representative to be in the examining room with you when the doctor examines you. Simply explain to the doctor that you deem physical examinations to be private and would like to have the representative leave the room. Be polite and sincere when you say this.

· Do not discuss with the doctor the amount of your claim or the amount of wages you used to make. Politely decline to do so by saying that the insurance company has that information.

· Do not discuss with the doctor whether you have any hearings coming up on your case.

· Do not discuss what you deserve for a settlement or your plans for spending the money you may get.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT YOU SHOULD DO OR SAY AT THE INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS:

· Be honest and cooperative with the doctor.

· Be pleasant. At the same time, you should not behave in such a fashion that the doctor can say you were laughing during the examination.

· Be concerned. Be serious. Be polite. Give the doctor accurate, but brief, history on how your accident or injury occurred.

· Give the doctor an accurate history of your job details and what you do in terms of lifting, bending, stooping, carrying, and walking.

· If the doctor asks you about any previous injuries or illnesses you had before the present one, be honest and tell him the nature of any injuries you had, and whether you had surgery in connection with those previous injuries. On the other hand, do not volunteer information.

· If the doctor asks if you have had any previous workers’ compensation claims, you should say to him, “I’ve had previous workers injuries” (if that is true). However, you should always disclose any injury whether it is work related or not if the doctor asks you for a previous history of injuries.

· Be aware that the doctor is sometimes performing the same test on you in more than one fashion and in more than one way. For example, the doctor may test your legs when you are sitting up and when you are lying down. This is the same test. Therefore, if you complain of pain inconsistently, the doctor is going to make note of it. Don’t try in any way to magnify or exaggerate your pain. Let the truth come out and we will obtain a more favorable report from the doctor. If you exaggerate your pain, or if you are inconsistent, or if you try to impress the doctor with the significance of your pain, this will only give the doctor ammunition with which to hurt your case.

· If you are totally disabled, explain to the doctor that if there was any way you could be back at work, you would be there.

· If you have a long work history (a long history is 5 years or more) emphasize to the doctor that you have worked for this employer for a significant number of years and you would like to get back to work.

· If you have a short history of work with the employer and you enjoyed your job, explain to the doctor that although your employment with this employer was brief, you enjoyed working there and would like to return to work.

· When you are giving a history to the doctor as to how the accident occurred, please mention all injuries that you suffered as a result of this accident. For example, if you mainly injured your back when you fell, but you also hurt your knee, mention that you hurt your left or right knee (as the case may be). If, when you tried to stop your fall you pushed out your hands, mention that your primary pain is in your back, but you tried to break your fall with your hands and you also bruised them.

· Remember, the person who tells the doctor that he/she does absolutely nothing all day is less likely to be believed than a person who says, “I try to be active or I try to do some chores, but I suffer for it the next couple of days”.

· Finally, ask the doctor to send a copy of his or her evaluation to your treating doctor.

IMPORTANT: IME doctors will often exaggerate the time they spent questioning and examining you. To combat this, it is imperative that you keep track of the time you spent with the doctor. Do not be obvious about doing so but glance at your watch so you can accurately advise us of the times.

ALSO IMPORTANT: As soon as you are home, sit down and write down every detail you can recall of your exam (i.e. time spent with a nurse or doctor, questions asked by the doctor and your answers, tests performed by the doctor, etc.). We understand that you can’t remember everything but just do the best you can.

If you have any questions about the above, please let us know now, before your IME. If you have not already viewed the videotape regarding preparing for your IME, please contact our office to set up an appointment to see the videotape before your IME.

Ziff Law Firm, LLP

303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902

Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062

Toll Free 1-800-943-3529

www.zifflaw.com

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NY Workers’ Comp Lawyer Explains Why He Probably Will Take Your Work Related Athletic Injury Comp Case

Attorney Jim Reed recently posted a very informative blog about school-sports injuries at “NY Accident Lawyer Explains Why He Probably Won’t Take Your School Sports Injury Case.”  However, if you’re injured while participating in work-related athletic activity you may very well have a Workers’ Compensation case.

IllinoisStateBreakout2008CollegeFinals.jpg

You might have a Workers’ Comp case if you’re injured when the employer required you to participate in the athletic activity, the employer compensated you for participating in the activity or the employer otherwise sponsors the activity.

I’m certainly not interested in discouraging employers from sponsoring athletic activity.  I am encouraging employers to keep safety in mind.  For example, some time ago the folks at the Ziff Law Firm got together for some firm sponsored paintball.  Anyone who knows anything about paintball will tell you that you can, and often will, get injured playing paintball.  Beyond that, given the competitive nature of folks at this firm, permanent disabilities were likely.  I encouraged Jim Reed, the firm’s managing partner, to make sure good safety equipment was available and used.  I’m happy to report that no employees of the Ziff Law Firm were seriously physically injured :  )

If you’re injured while participating in work-related athletic activity, protect yourself and talk to an attorney.

Thanks for reading,
Eric

____________________________________________
Eric L. Johnson, Esq.
Workers’ Compensation and Disability Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14901
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.zifflaw.com
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/AttorneyEric
Admitted to practice in New York and North Carolina

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NY Workers Comp Attorney Makes the Carrier Pay for Filing Frivolous Appeal

Got a terrific Board Panel decision today that will make my client happy and an insurance company and its lawyers unhappy.  A unanimous Board Panel penalized the insurance company $500 for filing a frivolous appeal.  That $500 is paid to my client.

There are a couple of things about this Board Panel decision that make it particularly sweet.  First, the decision that the insurance company frivolously appealed was a decision that awarded my client a penalty of nearly $4,400.  I sought this first penalty for late payment of his lost wage benefit.   So the $500  penalty for frivilous appeal was on top of the nearly $4,400  penalty for late payment of lost wages.

The other thing that makes this Board Panel decision special  is that this is the first time I’ve gotten a penalty against a carrier for filing a frivolous appeal.  Insurance companies delay and deny and they endlessly appeal.  I routinely seek and obtain penalties when the insurance company delays in paying my clients’ lost wage benefits and I routinely seek penalties for frivolous appeal.  I’ve been trying to get insurance companies penalized for frivolous appeals since I started practicing Workers’ Compensation and I was beginning to wonder if the Board would find anything frivolous.  Well . . . I’m happy to say that the Board will assess a penalty for filing a frivolous appeal.  Insurance companies beware.
Thanks for reading,
Eric

____________________________________________
Eric L. Johnson, Esq.
Workers’ Compensation and Disability Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14901
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.zifflaw.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/AttorneyEric
Admitted to practice in New York and North Carolina

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CLARIFICATION: Good News for NY Workers’ Compensation Claimants and Physicians

There was an inaccurate statement in my blog post yesterday “Good News for NY Workers’ Compensation Claimants and Physicians.” In my rush to get that information out, I didn’t read the Board’s release as closely as I should have and I apologize for that. I got an email this afternoon from Joseph Cavalcante, Assistant Director of Public Information for the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board, informing me about my error. I thank Mr. Cavalcante for reading and letting me know about the inaccuracy. 

My statement should be corrected to read “as a measure to deal with that shortage, Mr. Beloten temporarily rescinded the mandate that AUTHORIZED providers IN THE PROVIDER TEMPORARY SHORTAGE AREA file a C-4 form in order to be paid for seeing claimants. With regard to the rest of New York, authorized providers may file the new or older versions of the C-4. Doctors outside provider temporary shortage area are not authorized to submit the CMS-1500 as a result of this subject number.”

In short, only providers in the temporary shortage area are relieved of having to file C-4 forms. However, the good news for any provider statewide is that they have the option of filing the older and easier C-4 form and still have their bills enforced by the Workers’ Compensation Board.

Being in a rush is a pitfall of having a busy practice area such as Workers’ Compensation, but I’m not going to make any excuses and I do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

As always thanks for reading,
Eric

______________________________________
Eric L. Johnson, Esq.
Workers’ Compensation and Disability Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14901
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.zifflaw.com


Good News for NY Workers’ Compensation Claimants and Physicians

It’s not news to most New York Workers’ Compensation claimants and certainly not news to physicians and other health care providers that the Workers’ Compensation Board has been imposing increasingly rigorous paperwork requirements on providers without a commensurate increase in the amount providers can charge and the fee schedule was already set at a rate where many providers considered seeing Workers’ Comp claimants as a money-losing proposition.  

This was something that could only last so long.  This afternoon Robert E. Beloten, the Chair of the NY Workers’ Compensation Board, announced in Subject Number 046-398 that there is a provider shortage in the Rochester Area or more specifically in Monroe, Livingston, Steuben, Allegheny, Wyoming and Ontario counties.  As a measure to deal with that shortage, Mr. Beloten temporarily rescinded statewide the mandate that providers file a C-4 form in order to be paid for seeing claimants.  Providers’ bills will be enforced if they are submitted on universal claim forms (CMS-1500 or HCFA-1500) with sufficiently detailed office or narrative notes.

Hopefully this reduction in mandatory paperwork will stem the tide of providers turning away Comp claimants.   Let’s also hope that this temporary measure is made permanent.

I would only caution claimants who are temporarily disabled and who have lost time from work that if your doctor is no longer submitting the C-4 form, it’s a really great idea to remind him or her to document your degree of disability in the office or narrative note.  That little bit of advice will go a long way to making sure you get paid for your lost time.

Thanks for reading,
Eric

___________________________________________
Eric L. Johnson, Esq.
Workers’ Compensation and Disability Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14901
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.zifflaw.com

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Injury Exam Scam: Doctors Deliver Diagnoses to Keep Getting Paid by Insurance Companies

“A World of Hurt” is right.

Last April, the New York Times ran an in-depth expose of the New York State workers’ compensation system. The articles and associated videos and resources ran under the umbrella title, “A World of Hurt.”

What did the Times discover? I quote: “New York State’s workers’ compensation system serves no one well and is arguably the most adversarial of any state in the nation.”

IME: The test doesn’t deliver the truth

As a personal injury attorney in New York and Pennsylvania and managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm – which has a Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability group headed by attorney Eric Johnson – I’ve long felt strongly about some of the issues this series examined.

In particular, I’m galled about the practice of giving injury victims insurance company-ordered, so-called “Independent” Medical Exams, or IMEs, to prove the validity of injuries. These exams are NOT INDEPENDENT.

As a doctor was quoted in the story: “If you did a truly pure report… you’d be out on your ears and the insurers wouldn’t pay for it. You have to give them what they want, or you’re in Florida. That’s the game, baby.”

Check out the video embedded in this post, depicting a typical IME given by a semi-retired doctor WHO DOESN’T TAKE NOTES.

You can hear the doctor describing the patient’s pains and limitations in the video. The insurance company report of the exam was that the patient was healthy and did not have a valid workers’ comp claim.

When questioned about the different results, the doctor denies responsibility. It must be the fault of the appointment booking agency that transcribed his notes, or the insurance company, he says. Without the video record, it’s the patient’s word against the doctor’s. Guess who wins that bout.

How can insurance companies pay for “independent” exams?

IMEs are meant to flush out people who are faking or exaggerating their injuries. More than 100,000 of these exams are given each year in New York State.

The big irony of the system is that the people who are truly hurt – workers who are suffering both physically and financially – are often further victimized by the system. Their cases get ground to dust by the interlocking gears of the big insurance companies, the “expert” doctors who are essentially paid to save the insurance company money, and the “entities” – exam booking and transcription agencies – who give the doctors and the insurance companies plausible deniability.

Check another post on the NY Injury Law Blog, “NY Accident Lawyer Offers Do’s and Don’ts For Insurance Medical Exams (IME)” for tips about what to wear, how to act and what to do and say during an IME. My recommendations are based on experience advising clients for more than 20 years. It’s a must-read for clients before they have what I refer to as their “Insurance” Medical Exam.

Thanks for reading,
Jim
_________________________________________
James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
mailto:[email protected] http://www.zifflaw.com

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New York Workers’ Comp Attorney Issues Challenge

Batteryless FlashlightFor the next 30 days, in the spirit of Trick or Treat and good fun, the Ziff Law Firm will send a batteryless flashlight to any New York resident who can post as a comment to this blogpost, an original good reason why a represented Workers’ Compensation claimant should talk to any representative of the insurance company.

The flashlight is pictured in this post. It doesn’t require batteries and don’t ask me how it works. It’s approximately the size of a business card, but gives off a surprising amount of light.

My 5th Commandment of Comp is: Do not talk with insurance company claim representatives or investigators. Inform them that you’re represented and let your attorney talk to them. I said that in my “10 Commandments of Workers’ Comp” and I stand by that statement.

I issue this challenge in the spirit of good fun and I promise to use good faith in deciding whether or not an answer qualifies for a flashlight. As I said, to qualifiy the answers have to be posted as original comments to this blogpost.

By the way, I didn’t talk to my managing attorney about this so I reserve the right to withdraw this offer if he pitches a fit. I don’t expect to send out a single flashlight, but I look forward to any and all comments.

Good luck and thanks for reading,
Eric

___________________________________________
Eric L. Johnson, Esq.
Workers’ Compensation and Disability Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14901
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529
Email:
[email protected]
Web: http://www.zifflaw.com

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New Government Resource For Disabled

Disability.gov was launched today to coincide with the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Disability.gov is operated by the Department of Labor and incorporates information from 22 federal agencies.

Disability.gov has social media tools to encourage interaction and feedback, and new ways to organize, share and receive information. Visitors can sign up for personalized news and updates, participate in online discussions and suggest resources for the site. Features include a Twitter feed, RSS feeds, a blog, social bookmarking and a user-friendly way to obtain answers to questions on such topics as finding employment and job accommodations. Additional tools will be added during the months ahead.

Given the wide range of government programs about which you can find information on Disability.gov it’s very likely that you can find information useful to you or someone you care about so click on Disability.gov and have a look around.

Thanks for reading,
Eric

___________________________________________
Eric L. Johnson, Esq.
Workers’ Compensation and Disability Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14901
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529
Email:
[email protected]
Web: http://www.zifflaw.com

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