Information for Claimants coming for a Psychiatric
medico-legal report.

Purpose
You are coming for an interview with a Psychiatrist (a medically qualified doctor specialising in disorders of the mind) who has expertise in areas related to your claim. The Psychiatrist has also had training as an Expert Witness, to work for Solicitors in preparing medical reports. The aim of the interview is to gather information to help the expert assess medical (Psychiatric) aspects of your claim, and to write a report. Also it will allow the expert to answer any questions put by the solicitors. In the report, the expert may advise treatment for you. But the meeting with the Psychiatrist is not a treatment in itself, and the expert will not usually give you a prescription at the end of your appointment.

Usually when you see a doctor, the information you give is confidential. But when you meet an expert for a medico-legal report, the information you give will go into the report. The report may be seen by solicitors, other experts, and perhaps be used in Court. So it is not as confidential as when you see your own doctor or a specialist for treatment.

Preparation.

Coming for a Psychiatric report need not be frightening!  Some planning will help. Check you know where and when the appointment is to be held, and how you will get there. Remember to
take with you a list of your medication, identification, your appointment letter, plus any paperwork you have been  asked you to bring. Aim to arrive a little early. If you can't come, or if you are running late, telephone as soon as possible. If you have any disabilities (hearing, communication or mobility problems), or if English is not your first language, let the Expert know well before the appointment. 

The interview
The Expert will introduce himself and should make you feel comfortable. He or she will
want to know briefly about what happened, then about your symptoms (how you have been affected) in detail. Then you will be asked about any treatment you have had, any medical or Psychiatric problems in the past, plus a little about your family and your background (including your childhood, schooling, relationships and work). You will also be asked about what you do day to day, including hobbies and household jobs, and work. Try to answer honestly. If you are not sure of anything, eg dates, say so. There is a lot to cover, and the Expert may interrupt you or move the interview on. At the end, you will be able to ask any questions you have. A Psychiatrist will not usually need to examine you Physically for the report. Often it is helpful for the Psychiatrist to speak to your partner or a family member about how your symptoms have affected you. Usually, your solicitor will have asked for your permission to show the Expert copies of your medical records
and you may be asked about these. 

Sometimes you will be asked about distressing things. Try your best to answer, but if there is something that is too upsetting to talk about, just say so. If you need a break or a glass of water, don't be afraid to ask. 

Usually an interview will last 60 - 90 minutes.

Can I see the Report?
Usually your solicitor will go through the report with you, and will often make a copy available to your GP.