July 21, 2008

Dr. Mahoney's Baloney

Last week we blogged the suspicious "total and permanent" disability of Boston firefighter Albert Arroyo, who celebrated his profound disability rating by placing 8th in 2008 Pro Natural Body Building Championship. Yeah, I know, he was just having a good day.

Not having a very good day is Arroyo's doctor, John Mahoney, a neurologist at Caritas Carney Hospital. Dr. Mahoney claims that Arroyo did remove his shirt during the most recent exam (which resulted in the permanent and total disability rating), Mahoney noted that Arroyo "had lost some weight and was working hard on his physical therapy and being fit." Mahoney goes on: "If someone is doing bodybuilding and doesn't tell me, how the hell would I know?" Excellent question, Doc. For starters, you might put your hands on his (rock hard) body and ask him to try a few push ups.

Mahoney concedes that his diagnosis is not looking too brilliant in the light of Arroyo's recent triumph. "I knew my practice would be destroyed. I accepted that. I am prepared to get [expletive]. I am [expletive] and it was in the stars." Which I amend (via Shakespeare): "the fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves..."

Mahoney goes on to say that were it not for the restrictions imposed on him by the doctor-patient relationship, people would understand that his diagnosis was legitimate. Here's hoping that some well-timed indictments lift those restrictions. I would love to know just what evidence Mahoney used to reach his dubious conclusions.

Culture Problem
As the Boston Globe's Walter Robinson points out, this is not an isolated case of fraud. Boston firefighters retire on disability at a rate three times higher than those in other cities. Many of the "disabled" include high ranking chiefs - and therein lies the crux of the problem. As chiefs go, so go the line workers. Boston has a deeply rooted culture of disability among its firefighters. As we saw in the parking department of Philadelphia, disability cultures run from top to bottom. Chiefs on the take are hardly in a position to discipline line workers who want a piece of the action.

I am pleased to report that Albert Arroyo has been ordered back to his regular job as an inspector (no heavy lifting!). Meanwhile, the retirement board may want to take a closer look at the 25 firefighters whom Dr. Mahoney has rated as totally disabled since 2001. While there may not be any more bodybuilders in this group, I would not be shocked to find a few on boats in Florida, gamely working to overcome their disabilities by reeling in 200 pound sportfish. It's not easy, but it sure beats putting out fires.


| 3 Comments

3 Comments

Jon:

One of the things I taught my High School business students. (I taught for four years first period every day before going to the office, as a volunteer)
There are more ways to make a living in this country than you can imagine, I discover a new one almost everyday. The problem is not all of them are legal or ethical and they have to learn the difference.

I suspect that Dr. Mahoney is already in negotiations with the MA Department of Industrial Accidents to act on their behalf as an IME or Impartial physician.

It will be easy for this slimeball to simply cross over to the other side, where he will claim that NO ONE is injured. The money is good, and since this man has absolutely nor morals, in my opinion, of course, he won't blink an eye when he sends a legitimately injured worker to the guillotine that is the MA Department of Industrial Accidents.

There have been similar cases of questionable-at-best disabilities among California state police and Portland OR police and fire. It would not be surprising to see similar abuse elsewhere, especially in places where there is a separate panel of "insiders" who rule on these cases, rather than the normal state WC judicial body. The less transparent the process the more likely there is a culture of abuse.

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This page contains a single entry by Jon Coppelman published on July 21, 2008 10:48 AM.

Cavalcade of Risk and a news roundup was the previous entry in this blog.

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