Dr. Hrvoje Lalic
MD, Ph D, Professor, Specialist in Occupational and Sports Medicine | Health Centre Rijeka and Medical Faculty University Rijeka, Croatia
Hrvoje Lalic was born in Rijeka, Croatia in 1960. Medical school University Rijeka finished in 1983 and worked as the general practitioner in the Health Center Rijeka for ten years. Specialization in Occupational Medicine has done partially in Zagreb, Croatian capital city, in internationally famous School “Andrija Štampar” that is under the WHO patronage and partially in Bologna, Italy at “Policlinic S´Orsola Malpighi, OM school for specialization. Scientific and educational career he built parallel with his practical work in OM surgery. He participated World Congresses, OM Congress in Moscow – plenary lecture, San Marino Italy, Dubrovnik and Hvar in Croatia etc. Invited lecturer in Trieste – Italy – 10 hours of Lectures for medical students, doctors, and professors, an active participant in Erasmus+ Program, speaker – 10 hours of lectures in Umeä, Sweden, 10 hours in Bologna, Italy. In the 2017 University of Vienna – 10 hours of lectures. In 2018 invited “Key Note” lecturer at EuroSciCon Conference in London, U.K. First author of the papers published and cited in international journals, tracked in Pub Med Medline, CC, SCI and Open Access.
Now is working at the Dpt of OM Medicine Rijeka like a specialist in Occupational Medicine and Sports Medicine and regular professor of OM at Medical School University of Rijeka, Croatia. In 2018 received permanent title of regular professor.
The Occupational Medicine specialist has a key role in the assessment of one’s capacity to work, as well as their incapacity, temporary or permanent. This assessment is a very responsible task and there is always an unsatisfied party, the patient or the authorities, as well as the lawyers. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the importance of the expert witnesses’ complete neutrality. They have to assess the patient’s work capacity completely objectively and in doing so have to cancel out their emotions and the potentially uncomfortable feeling whilst confronting the team of experts representing Croatian Institute for Health or Pension Insurance.
Here are presented 4 cases of expert witnesses where unsatisfied patients pressed charges against the Croatian Institute for Pension Insurance. The first is the case of a person with dual nationality Bosnian and Herzegovinian and Croatian, the resident of Austria, who sued the Croatian Institute for not being granted pension for the disabled. The second is a 37 years old woman, a shop assistant who suffers from lumbar disc hernia and claim she cannot lift weight in the grocery shop. The third is the case of a 27 years old woman who has no forearm and two toes on each foot but was proclaimed capable of independent living. The fourth is the case of a fashion tailor who suffers from a severe case of epidermolysis bullosa hereditary, she states she is fighting for her life, but was proclaimed capable of working. They too sued the authorities.
In the first two cases, the expert witness for occupational medicine decided that the Croatian Institute made a correct decision and the last two cases were won by the patients. Such law battles are fought daily and courts are overburdened by them. On one side the patients (the claimants) are too subjective and think that their state is the heaviest and on the other side the Croatian Institute for Pension and Health Insurance with very limited means, is laden with applications for the pension for the disabled. However, the limited means must not be the reason for a truly ill disabled person who cannot work anymore, not to be able to retire. On the other side, those who can still work or would like to gain undeserved benefits must be refused their applications. Incomplete medical examinations are another frequent cause for such claims being rejected by the Croatian Pension and Health Institute.
To conclude, the Occupational Medicine specialist as an expert witness successfully solves all the unclear cases of work in/capacity. The Occupational Medicine experts should be included in Croatian Institute for Pension teams in order to avoid unnecessary court expense and to adequately assess the patients.