Video medical examinations for whiplash cases will continue to be allowed despite the UK continuing to emerge slowly out of lockdown.
MedCo, the organisation overseeing diagnosis of soft tissue injury, confirmed last week that the ban on remote examinations will remain suspended ‘until further notice’.
The rules around online appointments were relaxed as a temporary measure at the height of the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 crisis. Restrictions on daily life have eased somewhat since then, but not to the extent that video diagnosis is banned again.
Fresh MedCo guidance states that face-to-face examinations may be permitted if certain conditions are met, and remote meetings are still ‘not a preferred option’. Remote telephone examinations are not permitted.
The guidance adds: ‘Neither claimants or experts should feel coerced in any way to hold either a face-to-face or remote examination and any such instance of perceived coercion should be reported to the appropriate regulators and MedCo.
‘Obtaining the claimant’s ”informed consent” before deciding on a face-to-face or remote examination is of paramount importance and experts, on request, will need to be able to provide documentary proof that such consent was obtained.’
Medics trying to arrange physical appointments must contact the claimant directly and advise on the public health risks and timeframe for doing so.
Remote diagnosis remains a controversial subject given the possibility that it could encourage fraud. There are also concerns that more serious injuries might not be picked up if a medical expert is not able to fully assess the claimant’s condition.
Some personal injury lawyers have reported a fall in instructions from road traffic accidents, caused by the lockdown period where vehicle usage dropped sharply for a period.