Objective: The objective of this audit was to examine whether the content of medico-legal reports regarding psychiatric injury following motor vehicle accidents was influenced by the role of the report writers. Method: The audit consisted of a retrospective review, using a novel rating scale, of archived documents from 559 consecutively examined insurance claims following motor vehicle accidents in New South Wales. Results: Treating practitioners wrote less complete reports than experts representing the plaintiff or defendant. Treating practitioners and plaintiffs' experts were more likely to diagnose posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, while defendants' experts were more likely to find no psychiatric disorder. Limitations of the study were that it was retrospective and examined report writing between 1989 and 1998. The completeness, rather than quality, of the medico-legal reports was measured. Conclusion: Further training and quality assurance procedures may improve medico-legal report writing. Reform of the rules regulating the content of experts' reports may reduce the extent to which the role of the report writer influences their opinion.
- Medico-legal reports
- Motor vehicle accidents