Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Prevalence of concussion effects linked to ’pot of gold’ lawsuits, researcher says

02.05.2005


A new review of studies suggests that long-lasting symptoms of concussion – subjective at best – may increase when the outcome of a lawsuit is at stake.



The condition known as "postconcussional syndrome" is difficult to define medically but is generally defined as a string of cognitive, physical or behavioral losses that occur after a head injury.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Richard C.W. Hall of the University of Florida says a proliferation of lawsuits driven by claims of postconcussional syndrome means more physicians are being asked to make high-stakes diagnoses -- often for patients who are tangled financially and psychologically in litigation.


In the new review -- which appears in the May-June edition of the journal Psychosomatics -- Hall and coauthors try to strip litigation out of the picture to uncover a clearer idea of the recovery times and pathology of postconcussional syndrome.

The vast majority of postconcussional syndrome symptoms -- like headache, dizziness and memory loss -- are subjective, which makes it hard for doctors to distinguish feigned or dramatized complaints from legitimate injuries.

So, Hall says, "it becomes very important to understand the nature of those symptoms that are likely to be real and who is likely to be producing fictitious symptoms."

The review finds that well-motivated, younger patients, who experience no loss of consciousness, are less likely to suffer from postconcussional syndrome. By contrast, some predictors of persistent postconcussional syndrome include female gender, pre-existing psychiatric illness -- and being involved in a lawsuit.

Hall and colleagues examined 71 studies. "Many of the researchers found that the extent and duration of injuries in the United States, where compensation is obtainable, are greater than in countries … where financial compensation is less likely to occur," they write.

The majority of postconcussional syndrome patients recover completely within three to six months, the review showed. After one year, just 7 percent to 15 percent of all people diagnosed with the condition are still experiencing symptoms.

Hall says the review provides an "overall pattern of the condition" that physicians can use as a guide when a patient has "persistent, prolonged or dramatic complaints."

Hall, who often serves as an expert witness, says postconcussional syndrome has become the cornerstone of litigation.

"It’s a tool for lawyers basically," he says. "Patients think they will get a pot of gold at the end of rainbow," which can lead to "malingering for money" or overt lying.

In one study, the researchers reviewed 33,531 court cases and determined that 30 percent of disability cases and 29 percent of injury cases involved probable malingering and or extensive symptom exaggeration.

Carlton Carl, spokesperson for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, disputes the conclusion. "Only the most serious injuries caused by the negligence of others tend to be litigated, and there are -- and should be -- serious consequences to those bringing false or inflated legal claims," he says.

"The review’s less than one-page mention of long-lasting symptoms of concussion and their relation to legal claims is misleading at best. It compares the extent and duration of symptoms in the United States to those in Lithuania. No offense to Lithuania, but is the quality of medical diagnosis and care in Lithuania comparable to that in America? How many MRI machines does Lithuania have? How sophisticated are its diagnostic techniques and hardware?"

Beyond the ethical issue of feigning postconcussional syndrome, Hall says there are serious health risks.

Standard treatment can include narcotics, sometimes with spinal injections, which come with risks to the central nervous system, Hall says.

"What starts out as a litigation case can end up being a serious medical case," Hall adds.

Richard Hall | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cfah.org
http://www.hbns.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Study tracks inner workings of the brain with new biosensor
16.08.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Foods of the future
15.08.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases

21.08.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Researchers target protein that protects bacteria's DNA 'recipes'

21.08.2018 | Life Sciences

A paper battery powered by bacteria

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>