A personal injury solicitor who herself suffered a whiplash injury has urged fellow practitioners to step up challenges to inaccurate medical reports and report them to MedCo on every occasion, after finding her own report riddled with errors.
Shelyna Mariscal, a partner at Hansells in Norwich, said the faults in the process made it inevitable that claimants would face allegations of dishonesty.
Writing on the MASS blog, the solicitor said she had previously thought that clients’ complaints about inaccurate reports were down to their poor communication with the doctor.
However, her experience of attending her appointment – for a slot of just 10 minutes – showed that it was the process that was to blame.
“The first thing to happen was that I was handed a questionnaire to complete in advance of seeing the expert.
“The questionnaire was complex, requesting details of the accident, my injuries sustained, expenses incurred, etc., and a full medical history. In fact all the information you would expect to receive in a MedCo report.
“All these details had to be crammed into sections of around 2cm each. I felt under pressure to supply these details as my allotted appointment time had already passed. Having to supply such details immediately, without notice was not conducive to accuracy or completeness.
“I simply didn’t have sufficient time to give my answers the necessary consideration. As I looked around the waiting room, my fellow appointees were, if anything, looking more perplexed as they discussed the best way to complete the questionnaire.”
The actual appointment, involving a “cursory examination”, lasted less than five minutes, Ms Mariscal recounted.
The report that resulted “was so flawed it did not even contain my correct age”.
Ms Mariscal continued: “A previous accident which I estimated at being eight years ago was given an exact date and a head injury I had sustained from impact with the car door was referred to as a ‘psychological’ injury.
“Interestingly the report cites the time I was with the expert as 15 minutes which would never have been the case as the appointments were at 10 minute intervals – and the list goes on. Needless to say, my solicitor is now tasked with raising these numerous inaccuracies with the medical agency and reporting the matter to MedCo.”
She said the process was designed “to get clients seen and reports drafted in as short an amount of time as possible”, resulting in poor-quality outcomes.
“I now feel more strongly than ever that on each and every occasion we receive reports which our clients state are inaccurate, we notify MedCo of this. Without highlighting these issues, the government will continue to announce the success of MedCo.
“Based on my own experience and the experiences of client after client, this process is blatantly not working either for the claimant or their solicitor.
“How much time and, therefore, profit is wasted in reverting to the medical agency with requests to amend these reports?”
One suggestion was that the questionnaire should be sent with the appointment letter, so the client has an opportunity to consider their responses.
Ms Mariscal concluded: “My final reflection was that it is inevitable, given my experience, that claimants find themselves facing allegations of dishonesty and fraud based on the information provided in the MedCo reports.
“As legal representatives of claimants, it has to be our duty to emphasise that all the information contained within their reports has to be 100% factually accurate before release.
“I suspect this means that more rather than less of the reports require amendment and we should now consider this the norm.”