Recording exams presents problems

To record or not to record, that is the question. It’s a recurring issue in the independent medical examination world. Such a request is typically made by plaintiffs due to concerns over assessor bias.  Also, the plaintiff may wish to have evidence of the passage of time and the events that take place during the evaluation to contest any perceived is parity in the resulting examination report.

Video recording is not the norm, and most requests for recording are denied.  However, if certain criteria can be met, courts may permit it. While the recording process would not inherently interfere with the completion of the examination, the issue of bias must be considered. Many of my colleagues believe the presence of recording devices can change the overall examination atmosphere, providing possible confounding variables and participant bias.

Obviously, in a landscape that seeks fairness, it would not be appropriate to have a plaintiff-initiated examination recorded and a defence-initiated examination not recorded, or vice versa. I do not believe courts would support such a situation.

Assessors and medical experts on both sides typically rely on clinical notes, assessments, treatment records, etc. We don’t require video recordings to make our findings, but instead trust the professionalism and credibility of our colleagues. Many, in fact, believe video recording threatens the validity and integrity of the examination process altogether.

Any recorded examination that would be available for subsequent scrutiny introduces potential bias into the situation, making the overall clinical picture more difficult to determine with certainty. Most examiners would not put themselves in such an unpredictable situation.

If courts allowed plaintiffs and defendants to dictate when examinations were to be video recorded, fewer experts would participate. This would slow the overall legal process, reduce the quality of available assessors and lead to increased costs and competition for actual assessment dates.

I believe the courts will continue to allow for examinations in keeping with what examiners feel is appropriate and orthodox.

Dr. Jason Swain is a national clinical advisor with
A.R.S. Assessment Rehabilitation Services.

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