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Defense Request for Neuropsychologist Exam

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

The other day one of our listeners asked why we had several podcasts on the subject of brain injury cases. The answer is twofold. One, the issue is complex and better understood if we discuss things in smaller doses. Two, it is a very challenging area of law, and the medical aspects are also interesting.

In litigation involving traumatic brain injury (TBI), the defense team will often want to have the plaintiff injury victim examined by a neuropsychologist the defense hires.

When a defense expert conducts an exam of someone, it is essential to record what takes place during the exam. This is usually done by asking a court to order that the exam be video recorded or that a neutral, independent witness be present to verify what takes place during an exam.

Making a record of an orthopedic exam usually does not draw an objection. But for some reason, psychological exams usually result in defense arguments that recording the exam will interfere with the examination process.

But objections aside, video recording a neuropsychological examination and testing have become fairly standard practice. Videotaping is nearly always allowed in criminal cases requiring a psychological assessment. But, when it comes to civil litigants, the defense team will claim that the presence of a camera may alter the reliability of test results.

People who suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) are at greater risk of having difficulty with standardized testing.

For one, the exertion required to do the test may precipitate a headache.

Brain injury patients are also quick to fatigue.

They can quickly become frustrated if asked to move blocks around on a puzzle board or write down what they remember from a story.

The very nature of the injury makes testing difficult to tolerate.

Video recording can help explain why a patient started out performing well on an exam, but quickly suffered a performance drop-off as they tired.

The objectivity of recorded video can help improve the clinical accuracy of the conclusions drawn from the tests administered.

Video recording can also prevent a dispute over what was said during an examination or testing.

The presence of a video recording device may help the examinee feel that the process will be fair.

Video recording provides a non-intrusive way to protect the examiner and examinee and objectively verify the events.

From a clinical perspective, a recording allows an examiner (and anyone later reviewing what took place during an exam) to view facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language that may not make it into handwritten notes about the patient.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com.