1492236891940 - Injured worker left in agony after being denied ACC funding for finishing his shift

Injured worker left in agony after being denied ACC funding for finishing his shift

Aaron Lange knew something was wrong when he felt his groin go “pop”.

The Christchurch welder’s injury swelled up, so he had a break, and took a few pain killers.

When the lump settled down, Lange decided to see out the rest of his shift.

The next day, with the pain still causing him discomfort, the 50-year-old went to see his GP, who referred him to a hernia specialist.

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Lange expected the injury to be covered by ACC, and was stunned when his request for surgery approval was rejected.

“They told me because I was able to continue working in the afternoon, I didn’t have a traumatic injury,” he said.

Lange said he had been in pain since the incident, and was often “in agony” at the end of a working day. 

He would face months of waiting in the public health system to get his hernia fixed, and could not afford to pay for surgery himself.

Lange explained he had taken pain killers to be able to keep working and asked ACC to reconsider.

ACC confirmed the decision in another phone call, repeating that the claim was rejected because he had been able to keep working after the injury.

“That was the only reason they gave [on the phone],” he said.

“It’s just rubbish. I worked through the pain and that’s what I get for it. It’s a joke,” Lange said.

Lange’s colorectal surgeon, who declined to be named, said he was “extremely surprised” by ACC’s decision.

He said “it was clear” the heavy lifting incident had caused the hernia.

Lange had no previous history of abdominal injury and had never noticed a lump in his groin before.

“People usually don’t ignore lumps in their groins.

“The only reason it popped out is because he was heavy lifting that day,” the surgeon said.

In the assessment report sent to ACC, the surgeon described Lange as a “pretty fit and well 50 year old welder who had had no significant medical problems in the past”. 

“Examination of his left groin revealed an obvious direct inguinal hernia,” the report said.

An ACC spokeswoman said medical information provided to support the claim “showed no evidence of a physical injury caused by an accident”.

She said the decision was supported by the updated hernia guidelines developed in partnership with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. 

The guidelines include a requirement that “the patient suffered significant groin pain at the time of the event, and the pain was substantial enough to cause the patient to cease activity at that time or soon afterwards”.

Lange said he planned to ask ACC for an independent review of the decision and was considering hiring a lawyer to help him with the process.

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