Jul 31, 2019 by Foresight

Neurology Expert Witnesses and Their Role in Court: Neurosurgery, Neuropsychology and Neuropsychiatry

When a word is preceded by ‘neuro’, it means that the following professional of the succeeding title has specialised in studies and practices related to the bodies nerves and nervous system (Neurology). The doctors and practitioners who chose to focus on these anatomical systems may have originated from different disciplines, but are all specialists on how their own field of expertise relates to the nervous system and the neurones, and vice versa.

Neurosurgery Expert Witness

Neurosurgeons have undergone a long and arduous tuition process in order to be registered, due to the highly complex nature of their chosen speciality. They operate on patients who have difficulties with their central nervous system (CNS) or peripheral nervous system (PNS). Due to the nature of these systems, the array of conditions and difficulties that these doctors treat is vast. A few examples are brain surgery, radiosurgery, stem cell implantation, complex cervical surgery, spinal fusion surgery, spinal instrumentation, endoscopic surgery, peripheral nerve surgery, and vascular and endovascular neurosurgery. These surgeons will often also specialise in nuero-oncology and will help to treat cancer types which affect the brain, spine and nervous system.

The Role of a Neurosurgery Expert Witness in Court

Due to their vast experience, medical knowledge and application of the two, it need not surprise us that neurosurgery expert witnesses may play a role in a wide variety of cases. A neurosurgery expert witness may for example be instructed in a case where brain damage has occurred, be it accidentally or intentionally. If a case is being built around the trauma which has been caused then a neurosurgery expert witness can perform an assessment of the damage caused with the aim of ascertaining the level of trauma has caused brain damage.
A neurosurgery expert witness may also be instructed to aid a solicitor in a case regarding medical malpractice or negligence. Due to the complex nature of neurosurgery, a solicitor or any other non-medical cannot be expected to understand the intricacies of the CNS and PNS and whether medical malpractice or negligence has taken place.

Neuropsychiatrist and Neuropsychology Expert Witnesses

A neuropsychiatrist is a specialist in understanding and treating mental health disordersattributed to diseases or traumas of the nervous system. In most cases they will examine patients who have suffered brain damage due to a trauma or illness. They will also have worked on cases involving epilepsy, obsessive compulsive disorder, dementia and other mental health conditions associated with neurology. A neuropsychiatrist expert witness will have studied medicine before choosing to go down the path of psychiatry and then neuropsychiatry. Therefore, these are highly trained and specialised doctors with an immense knowledge of their subject.

Neuropsychology is similar to Neuropsychiatry in the sense that both professions focus on behavioural outcomes as a result of brain damage and other Neurological conditions. Where they differ slightly is the approach they take in treating patients and addressing their issues. Whereas a neuropsychiatrist may adopt a purely medical approach to treating a patient by giving the relevant prescription, a neuropsychologist may instead adopt a more rehabilitative approach to their patients. A neuropsychologist will delve into their patients psyche to ascertain whether certain events or past experiences are triggering a mental or physical condition in their patient, they will then attempt to address and remove these issues.

The Role of Neuropsychology and Neuropsychiatry Expert Witnesses in a Court

Both of these branches of specialists offer their services in cases relating to neurological problems, or indeed mental health issues caused by these problems. Neuropsychology and Neuropsychiatry expert witnesses may be instructed by a solicitor in cases concerning PTSD, head injuries, psychological damage, clinical psychology, child psychology, bipolar disorder, autism, anxiety, depression and memory disorders, to name a few. Furthermore, their expertise may be required in cases of medical malpractice, medical negligence and misdiagnoses.

These experts will review the existing evidence base, which they may subsequently validate or question. Furthermore, they may deem it necessary to conduct their own neurologically based assessments on the individuals in questions as to formulate their own conclusions. By performing the necessary neuro- assessments, the neuropsychiatry and neuropsychology expert witnesses can determine to what extent the patient’s mental health has been compromised as a result of the actions brought to attention in the case.

A Comprehensive Neurological Report

These expert witnesses all command a great deal of knowledge on the subject of Neurology, each with their own niche and speciality. They will use their knowledge, research of the case and assessments of patients to formulate a comprehensive report noting their findings and conclusions. This document may be presented to a solicitor or read out by the expert themselves in court. Though complex in its nature, this document will be composed so that it may be understood by the court in full.

Finding the Right Neurological Expert Witness

When instructing medical personnel of this stature it is important that their specialities, training and reputation are taken into account. By using Foresight’s services and extensive network of experts, you can assure that your expert witness is court-ready and appropriate for your case. To speak to one of our dedicated case managers, get in touch today.



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