In the past few months there has been canvassing by certain providers of medico-legal reports used in settlement of personal injury cases regarding ways in which money can be saved in the preparation of medical evidence.

The new concept appears to relate to "cheap and cheerful" medical reports prepared by general practitioners who should, the story goes, prepare reports on almost every personal injury case.

Recently, at the request of a major insurer, Medico-Legal Consultancy conducted a confidential audit of medical reports commissioned by claimant solicitors and which had been used to settle claims.

The findings were that only 30% of the medical reports fairly and fully represented the actuality of injuries and/or the relevant past medical history, and that such figures would suggest that insurers would be very unwise to rely upon "cheap" reports.

Suggestions that corners can be cut to save money can only cause more financial misery for insurers in the long term, as non evidence-based medical reports will simply reflect what a claimant or his legal adviser tells the doctor who is preparing a medical report.

Any such schemes that superficially purport to be in the spirit of a new cost-saving culture will simply open the doors to increased levels of fraud and exaggeration of claims.

The insurance industry is also likely to suffer more pain once those doctors and solicitors who become involved in the "quick, cheap and cheerful" culture will begin to be sued by those whose claims have been inadequately dealt with because of the lack of quality and realistic medical evidence.

High quality medical reports can only be provided on the basis of a proper and skilled examination, including review of the past medical records.

Experience should tell us all that the new "cheap" is likely, in the long run, to be very expensive.

Dr RP Norwich
Chief executive