Lawyer Monthly - April 2022

Can you tell us a little about what sparked your interest in injuries and disability specifically? I started off in a small way in 1990 after taking on a consultant post in the NHS. Therewas a small tick-over of cases, mostly minor injuries, at that time. Then some whiplash-associated disorders started to appear. It was apparent that many of these were coming with symptoms not generally recorded in reports, specifically intermittent neurological symptoms in the arm(s). Researching this led to finding that muscle imbalance in the shoulder girdle, however caused, can lead to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, recoverable with appropriate exercise. It then became an interest to look at many other injuries in greater detail than normally done in clinical practice. What motivated you to specialise as an expert witness? Being a qualified expert witness (CUEW) is very different from being an NHS consultant. For starters, most of the conditions being reported on are almost never seen by NHS consultants, and whiplash injuries, ankle sprains, wrist fractures and so many more are never seen in that practice as the juniors or physiotherapists see them if at all. All too often we see ‘experts’, frequently untrained to be experts, switching from their NHS practice and giving opinions on a condition that they rarely or never see in practice. They should not even be instructed, but I see it daily. In the NHS, the trend to sub-specialisation has greatly helped treatment but not helped medicolegal- reporting. This is because we have to look at the whole individual, not just one part. I have a current case running where there is a whiplash mechanism and the defence expert (unqualified) is an upper limb specialist. He knows nothing about the condition that the claimant has. Which aspects of your work do you find themost interesting? The disability aspect of cases is the most important. Few experts are qualified in this aspect, but after a period as a disability assessor for the DWP I obtained the DDAM (Diploma in Disability Assessment Medicine, Occupational Health division of the Royal College of Physicians London). Assessing the disability in a case is vital, as it gives an indication of the severity of injury, or sometimes symptoms. When understood, this can give a much more detailed picture, of a case. I have yet to meet another expert who is qualified to assess disability. This is important because if the level of claimed symptoms is at variance with the disability (usually claimed severe symptoms but life more or less carrying on normally), then 91 APR 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM EXPERT WITNESS the level of disability is more informative than the claimed symptoms, which are far more subjective. Howdo you ensure that you stay abreast of developments in your field that might affect your ability as an expert witness? Keeping up with CPD in all the different forms available is essential to maintain both the medical and legal aspects of the work. What would you say is themost difficult aspect of being an expert witness in the field of orthopaedics? CPR Part 35, no question. Many experts

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