Doctor upset over WorkSafeNB ignoring his advice

A Perth-Andover doctor said he's tired of his medical advice being overruled by WorkSafeNB officials.

A family doctor says he’s growing tired of WorkSafeNB ignoring his advice and denying injured workers the help he feels they should be given.

Dr. Barry Wecker, who has practised medicine for 26 years in the Plaster Rock area, said he gets about 10 cases a year that seem to be rejected by WorkSafeNB for no understandable reason.

He said it baffles him when case workers for the provincial agency overrule his professional advice.

Wecker said he doesn't even know the qualifications of these case workers and he said his attempts to speak directly to someone at the agency to advocate for a patient often go nowhere.

“It's a constant hassle with WorkSafe. It's rare that I get a patient who actually goes through the system easily,” Wecker said.

“And I call and they won't even talk to me. They just say, ‘Nope, that's the decision and there's nothing you can say that's going to change it.’ And I don't know what to do. I don't know where to go to help some of these people.”

WorkSafeNB has yet to comment to CBC News on the concerns raised by Wecker.

Steven Ouellette, a Grand Falls resident, is one of those patients who Wecker believes is being ignored by WorkSafeNB.

Three years ago, Ouellette lost his balance while working in the woods and he fell hard against the steel tracks of his tree-processing machine.

Ouellette has not been the same since that workplace accident.

“I called my employer on a Sunday afternoon, I said I couldn't make it in. I had a huge migraine. My teeth were hurting,” he said.

He sought medical advice from his family doctor, Wecker, to cope with his pain.

But Ouellette said WorkSafeNB won't pay for the medicine or the therapy prescribed by Wecker or his pain specialist, Richard Dumais.

“I'm exceedingly displeased at the decision by WorkSafeNB to close the file on Steven Ouellette,” Wecker said.

The family doctor said he's constantly writing letters of behalf of injured patients, such as Ouellette, asking WorkSafeNB to reconsider cases they have rejected.

“I am tired of being ignored by WorkSafeNB and having the opinions of secretaries trump my medical opinion,” he said.

One non-profit agency in Saint John says it's hearing from more doctors seeking advice on what they need to do to get their patients' claims approved.

Bob Shalala, the executive director of Worker Appeal Services, said he's handling 100 active complaints.

He said when cases do reach the appeal tribunal, 90 per cent of them are reinstated.