60 Minutes, the ACC hatchet-men and Dr Vic Du Plessis’s 60 Minutes plea – let me stand up in court?

We have a post coming soon on this particular ACC Minister Judith Collins who  yesterday according to Fairfax New Zealand:

……pledged to examine the independence of a small group of doctors claimed to be receiving large payments in return for medical assessments that help the corporation take costly long term claimants off its books.

In series of articles in recent years the Herald has reported concerns about a small group of doctors being used by the corporation to reject claims for elective surgery on grounds of pre-injury “degenerative” conditions.

However reports this week claimed the corporation was similarly using a select group of medical assessors who could be relied on to produce medical assessments of long term claimants that allowed the corporation to end their entitlements.

Yesterday, Green ACC spokesman Kevin Hague said he’d obtained data under the Official Information Act showing a small group of doctors were being paid up $500,000 which raised “huge doubts” about their independence.

Mr Hague named the four doctors under the protection of Parliamentary privilege as Martin Robb, Vic du Plessis, Bill Turner and David Beaumont.All four were identified as being paid somewhere between $300,000 and $500,000 last year. Dr Robb, Dr du Plessis, and Dr Beaumont saw 300 to 500 ACC claimants that year while Dr Turner saw 500 to 700.

“The enormous volume of work and the huge fees paid to (to these specialists)

He questioned Ms Collins in Parliament yesterday as to whether “an ordinary person would consider it possible that medical advisers like Dr du Plessis, Dr Turner, Dr Beaumont and Dr Robb could remain independent of ACC” when the corporation paid them so much.

“I think that is an issue that needs to be considered and I’ve spoken to ACC about it”, Ms Collins told him.

“The member will be aware that there is a new board now put in place. I will be meeting with the board and discussing obviously not the individual cases and matters but how we can end up with a system which obviously achieves good robust and independent medical reports and assessments that can be seen as independent by both the clients of ACC and ACC.”

However Ms Collins also indicated the issue as not a new one.

“In the year 2000 the same lawyers for ACC clients were claiming exactly the same issues around what they said were non-independent medical assessments. I don’t think much has changed but I’m happy to work with the member to get things to change.”

By Adam Bennet, New Zealand Herald | Email Adam

Well, we here at Lauda Finem would like to start with yet another small judgement, supplied by one of our readers, a fellow researcher and commentator; who uses the monika Vic.

It would seem that Dr Lodewicus (Vic) Du Plessis has previously had an opportunity to have his day in court. Not that it did him or his client any good (you guessed it another ACC styled insurance company) with the appellant court judge giving the “hard working” Doctors “professional opinions” a caning before awarding the victim of another of his so called specialist reports (yet another appellant) in excess of 115’000.00 Rand in compensation:

Dr Du Plessis has had at least one day in court already – A South African Court that is!

29. The medical experts agreed that the appellant suffered at least one epileptic seizure during the beginning of October 1991, but the cause thereof remained in dispute. Dr Zwonnikoff was quite confident on medical grounds that the appellant’s epilepsy arose as a result of the head injury, while he could find no evidence of a stroke which might have been the cause of the appellant’s weakness. Dr Du Plessis on the other hand could not confirm that the appellant had suffered a stroke, but he was convinced that the appellant’s hypertension, and not his head injury, was the real source of all his problems.

The respondent contended that there was documentary evidence forming part of the record which showed that the appellant suffered “a collapse” and a “syncopal episode” in May 1991. Dr Lengane certified that he examined the appellant on 6 May 1991. The nature of his illness was described as “hypertension – led to collapse”.

30. Dr Lengane referred the appellant to Dr Amanjee, a specialist physician, who recorded that he treated the appellant on 8 May 1991 for “hypertension” and a “syncopal episode”. Both doctors mentioned hypertension as a problem, but since neither of them testified at the trial it remained uncertain what the true nature of the appellant’s “collapse” or “syncopal episode” had been. Dr Du Plessis regarded the so-called collapse and syncopal episode as symptoms which were compatible with hypertension, but he did not describe either of them as a stroke.

The appellant underwent two brain scans, an ordinary Cat-scan and a Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI-scan. There was no evidence according to Dr Zwonnikoff of any form of stroke in either of the two scans done on the appellant. He was of the view that if the appellant had suffered a stroke severe enough to cause weakness the incidence of a positive scan was in excess of 90% on an MRI-scan.

31. Dr Du Plessis agreed that if one postulated multiple strokes they would more likely have shown on a scan than a concussive injury. The respondent relied on the evidence of Mrs Painter in support of its contention that the appellant’s brain damage was focal and that his disabilities were therefore probably a consequence of a stroke or strokes.

There was much debate as to whether the appellant’s brain damage was focal (which would be more consistent with a stroke) rather than diffuse (which would be more consistent with trauma). Both Dr Du Plessis and Dr Zwonnikoff expressed the view that the appellant’s brain damage was more diffuse. Mr Mallinson’s evidence was to the same effect.

Neither of the two Neuro-psychologists could however indicate with any measure of certainty whether the appellant’s problems were the result of one or more strokes or a traumatic head injury.

32. The court a quo accordingly found it impossible to decide on a balance of probabilities which of the
Neuro-psychologists’s theories was the correct one. I have the same difficulty in deciding this aspect of the case on the probabilities.

Dr Du Plessis gave the following evidence in chief:

“It must be borne in mind that a stroke can give you cognitive impairment just as much as a head injury can. So I have got no problem that there is cognitive and/or neurophysical problems that led to his laying off. My problem is that looking through the records that were made available to me it was my understanding of those records that the problem did not arise as a consequence of the head injury but as a consequence of the incident in October 1991.”

The learned trial judge then pointed out to him that there was evidence from the appellant’s fellow workers that when he came back to work after the collision he was not able to function as before, and Dr Du Plessis thereupon acknowledged that he was not aware of such evidence.

33. In the course of cross-examination Dr Du Plessis made the following significant concession in this connection:

“….if the weakness was there before this whole thing [the October 1991 incident] started and it was there after the accident, then obviously the weakness is related to the accident and I have never
denied that if there is evidence, that there is a weakness from
the day of the accident, that that must then be the cause. But the information that was available to me did not indicate that….”

Dr Du Plessis further conceded that if there was reliable evidence of a real change in performance by the appellant after the collision:

 “then one must accept that something else – that the head injury must have been more severe than anticipated initially.”

I have indicated above that there was indeed credible and reliable evidence of Dr Keikelame, the appellant’s wife, Mr Duursema and other lay witnesses to the effect that the appellant not only complained of weakness shortly after the accident, but also displayed actual weakness and loss of memory.

34. Dr Du Plessis did not dispute that there were disabilities. He accepted that the appellant’s cognitive functions were impaired and that there was evidence of weakness when the appellant was examined by Dr Zwonnikoff and Dr Grobler in October and November 1991 and by Dr Keikelame in January 1992. Dr Du Plessis also accepted that there were reasons for Dr Grobler to board the appellant. He made these concessions despite the fact that he was not able to find a weakness when he examined the appellant in August and November 1993.

The evidence of the appellant’s weakness and his inability to cope with his work shortly after the collision no doubt lends support to his case that his disability was caused by the head injury sustained in the collision. The respondent’s expert, Dr Du Plessis, in effect conceded that such evidence would show that the weakness was related to the accident.

35. I therefore agree with counsel’s submission on behalf of the appellant that the temporal coincidence between the collision on the one hand and the onset of the appellant’s inability to cope with his work on the other hand created an inescapable probability of cause and effect.

In view of the aforegoing I am of the opinion that the appellant succeeded in proving that the head injury which he sustained in the collision was the most likely cause of his disabilities. It follows that the appellant has proved that the consequences of the head injury were a left-sided hemiparesis, epileptic seizures and cognitive and intellectual impairment.

Source: http://www.saflii.org/cgi-bin/disp.pl?file=za/cases/ZASCA/1997/93.html&query=doctor%20du%20plessis


Neurologist top teacher (Otago Daily Times)
ACC’s use of experts questioned (New Zealand Herald)
Try ACC compo for lost breast  (New Zealand Herald)
Eye of the storm  NZ 60 Minutes, 10 June 2012 (Chanel 3)
Exit stratagy NZ 60 Minutes, 9 September 2012(Chanel 3)
Return to work guide (NZ Accident Compensation Corporation [ACC])

NZ Green’s MP Kevin Hague

Doctors outed by Greens MP Kevin Hague:

Dr Martin C. Robb, (Wanaka):

Occupational Medicine, 650-1150 assessments over 2 years (2010 & 2011), earning between $650,000 – $1,150,000.

Dr David Beaumont, [Fit for Work] (Cromwell):

Occupational Medicine, English/UK origin & ex Atos, 600-1000 assessments over 2 years (2010 & 2011), earning between $600,000 – $1,000,000 + GST.

Dr Vic Du Plessis (Dunedin):

South African national, also worked in Canada, Rehabilitation Medicine & Neurology, 600-1000 assessments over 2 years (between 2010 and 2011) he worked on average over 2 days/fortnight, earning between $600,000 – $1,000,000 + GST, whilst maintaining his full time permanent position with the Otago District Health Board working 30 hours/week.

Dr William (Bill) E. D. Turner, Christchurch:

Occupational Medicine, 1200-1600 assessments over 2 years (2010 and 2011), earning between $700,000 – $1,10000 + GST.

Source: Parliamentary Question time, 60 Minutes (Chanel 3)  and Greens Party website page; payments made and workloads of ACC assessors (New Zealand Greens Party):

 ACC Assessors Payments schedule (pdf)

Excerpt of Parliamentary question time and interview with Greens Party MP Kevin Hague (click below to listen)

Report on the Accident Compensation Corporation: Judge (retired) Peter J. Trapski CBE (1994)

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  • Hi,
    I am seeing a neurologist in Brisbane this week and a friend said I should Google him to see his background. I am now concerned as a heap of information has come up regarding him being paid to find reasons for work cover to end long term claims. The doctor is Dr Lodewicus (Vic) DU PLESSIS, is this the same doctor?
    Any information would be much appreciated.

    • Jason Trewin says:

      Hi Melissa, I am booked in to see the same Doctor end of May. Did you go ahead with your appointment with him? I would love to get some feedback.



  • About time. Here’s my Australian (VIC) nightmare for anyone to share. Please contact me for any media, I’m happy to speak up. Afterall, I have nothing to lose, my compensation is in the pockets of the Victorian Workcover Authority (VWA) http://www.pudendalnerve.com.au/category/work-system/

  • C. Review.‏

    Reply ▼
    David Nel
    To David Nel
    Re P.T.S.D

    Rhodesian army….,.1975-1980.

    Treated for Restless leg syndrome, possibly caused by P.T.S.D
    According to sleep clinic in South Africa.

    Army 6 weeks – 6 weeks back at work operating steam and diesel locomotives.

    1981-1983 U.S.A C.F.N.I achieved Degree in practical theology.

    1984-1986 Pa stored a church in Zimbabwe…Public speaking…. counseling.

    1987-1990 Coro Brick Burning Kiln Supervisor.

    1990-1995 Radar investments, Production Manager-Operations Manager-board of Directors.

    1996-2001 General Manager Poly Handy.

    2002-2007 Loco Serviceman.

    2007-to date of accident Production of conveyor Systems.

    Before accident…active Gym enthusiast, Member of Pipe band. many varied hobbies.
    medically fit, Mingling with people, Keen fisherman, boating and musician.

    Best description of event before injury incident.
    Early morning arrive at factory- still dark, no light so use head light of vehical.

    That morning had trailer on vehical stopped at gate with lights on to see gate to unlock
    then walk to door of factory to unlock.

    Trailer partially blocking road, heard truck heard shouting after that I do not remember,
    only that I was taken to hospital.

    Went to Auckland, but was suffering with pain, dizziness, loss of memory,
    disorientation, head ache, ringing in ears, hard of speech, body pain.

    Back in Invercargill went to Dr was sent to hospital and then Specialist
    diagnosed with a head and neck injury.

    Sent to Dunedin for Operation.

    Went back to specialist still in pain was given medications including Morphine.
    Was sent to many people many of which I have forgotten due to a loss of memory
    which still affects me, along with pain, dizziness, difficulty sleeping due to pain
    at times stammering, weakness in legs and arms, easily disorientated,
    Restricted neck movement.

    As a result of accident and my condition, became isolated and distant as I
    was not able to do the things I used to do, could not communicate well,
    and fall asleep when visiting.

    Resulting in my Isolation to the extent I did not go out.
    The change I experienced was noticed by all who tried to encourage me.

    I would go for walks and not know where I was.

    I became very discouraged and and became very depressed, to the point I
    wanted to take my life.

    This was further accelerated when A.C.C suspended payments due to some
    specialist they referred me to who insinuated that because I fought in the Rhodesian war

    That this was the major cause of my situation.

    Due to my state of mind after the accident I was not able to express myself.
    I believe that the “specialist” who saw me saw this as an easy way under A.C.C
    to have my payment suspended.

    A.C.C immediately gave me notice without further to do, without even trying to
    help me find the cause of my predicament.

    Since this took place I have suffered mentally, emotionally, physically in every way.

    As a result of this, the situation was further aggravated when I could not work
    and had to on advice from Jubilee go into bankruptcy.

    This in turn has caused harassment and embarrassment.

    I now still live in isolation due to my pain, discomfort, and not wanting to face people.

    The reason I write, this is as a result of not being able to communicate it.
    so in order to relate my struggles I have decided to put this on paper, in
    order to hopefully express my situation.

    unfortunately, My memory cannot recall all the events that have transpired
    to the point I do not even recognize the faces of those who saw me.

    As I look back I cannot understand how an accident like this could effect my
    very active and responsible life style that I once enjoyed.

    In conclusion I am greatly puzzled by these experts who have invented theories
    regarding my situation.

    The only people who understand are my family, friends and my Doctor.

    All have said and intimated that something changed me after the accident.
    This has been very upsetting.

    As asked by many people in the same situation, “why these particular specialists
    who I believe were paid huge amounts of money by A.C.C.

    My question to those concerned, can they sleep knowing what they are doing?.
    what would they do given the same situation I am facing.

    Perhaps they should research the subject on Google like I have
    and find out more about this subject.

    There is a wealth of information concerning, head injuries,
    Neck operations, pros and cons, after effects in a number of cases
    and much more.

    These I quote specialists should spend more time updating their medical information
    and remember the reason why they became medical professionals.

  • Yes I too am a victim of this Dr.
    Now I am bankrupt, unable to work as a result of Dizziness, headaches, loss of memory,
    disorientation, and pain.

    I was told My claim would be suspended due to the fact I fought in the Rhodesian war.

    So now I live in poverty and pain, how can this man be content to live with what He does.

    David Nel


  • Have a look at the document on this link right at the top of the page. DHB is publicly funded by the tax payer, yet it appears Du Plessis is doing Medico-legal documents privately for ACC and is using Hospital contact details and resources perhaps. I wonder if this means the DHB would be liable for Du Plessis actions if a claimant took on Du Plessis, or should I say, the DHB’s report.


  • Thanks Vic, the Judges many concerns, in the additional case you have cited, are well placed and would seem to mirror Dr Du Plessis’s earlier behaviour in South Africa:

    [26] I do not consider that the aetiology of any mental injury which is diagnosed by reference to the criteria of DSM IV, to be within the field of expertise of a neurologist, and for this reason I attach less weight to the opinions expressed by Dr Du Plessis on matters psychiatric as opposed to matters of neurology.

    [27] It is the case that Dr Du Plessis has it as an accepted proposition that the type of headaches that would have arisen from the appellant’s head injury, should have dissipated, and because they haven’t the cause of them must be something other than the fact of the head injury.

    [28] That view, I find, is far too simplistic and takes no account of the medical aetiology of chronic pain as espoused by Dr Davis.

    [29] The respondent, in any event, relies to greatest degree on the expression of opinion by Dr Doris, a Consultant Psychiatrist, a person in the same field of expertise as Dr Davis.

    [30] Despite Dr Doris noting that the appellant had made it clear to him when interviewing him that he did not have any significant headache problems prior to his head injury of 1994, Dr Doris seems to have preferred a history noted by Dr Clark and relied on that rather than statements from the appellant himself.

    [31] It is not without significance, I find, that the appellant was an amateur boxer in his younger days and represented New Zealand at a Commonwealth Games. He did not complain of or have headaches during this period of his life.

    [32] Having considered all the evidence presented on this point, and in particular the assertions made by the appellant both before and after the particular point was identified as being of significance, I find that the pre-injury situation has been grossly over-stated by those to whom it was given second-hand.

    Source: http://www.nzlii.org/nz/cases/NZACC/2008/117.html

  • Dr LJ (Vic) du Plessis
    Address: ISIS Centre Wakari Hospital Private Bag 1921 Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
    Telephone: +64 21 253 1148

    so if your in NZ you would dial 021 253 1148

    He might like to chat with you. I would be recording him though.

  • http://www.nzlii.org/nz/cases/NZACC/2008/117.html

    Para 26 Du Plessis is criticised by the court for diagnosing outside his scope of qualification.

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