Third-Party Observation Can Influence the Results of Neuropsychological Evaluations

If you or a loved one sustained a head injury as a result of a car accident, a neuropsychologist may be necessary to determine whether a traumatic brain injury occurred as a result of the incident. Traumatic brain injuries can impair concentration, thought, and perception, and may create emotional functioning issues such as personality changes and depression.

Diagnosing Brain Injury

A neuropsychological examination can establish whether an incident has affected an injured person’s attention span, ability to concentrate, memory, perceptual skills, speech, and mental flexibility. An attorney may request to attend an neuropsychological examination, or obtain an audio or video recording of the examination, in order to establish that the examiner was not biased. Several courts have permitted medical or psychological examinations to be recorded on that basis.

However, according to the National Academy of Neuropsychology and as confirmed by experimental data, third-party observation can affect the reliability of the results of a neuropsychological examination. The presence of a third-party observer or recording device can generate anxiety and skew the examinee’s test results. Further, many neurological tests are based on experiments which presumed that no third-party observation would take place, and may not be valid under different conditions. Finally, although a neuropsychologist could preserve the scientific reliability of the examination by taking a hidden recording, it would violate codes of professional ethics to do so.

Complications & Court Admissibility

As a result, many neuropsychologists would refuse to perform an observed neuropyschological examination. In that regard, in addition to the scientific issues presented by the nature of third-party observation, a neuropsychologist who permits an examination to be observed may violate their contract with the company that provided the testing material, due to confidentiality concerns. Neuropsychological testing relies on the assumption that the examinee has not prepared for the examination, and public disclosure of the testing materials can call into question all future neuropsychological evaluations.

Further, even if a neuropsychologist were to agree to administer such an evaluation, third-party observation is unlikely to be helpful to a court. The raw data and methodology produced by the evaluation can be provided to opposing counsel even without third-party observation, and the opposing attorney can use an independent expert to analyze the results.

If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident, an injury attorney can help you decide whether a neurological evaluation would be helpful to establish or assess the nature and extent of any traumatic brain injury. An experienced attorney can help guide you through the process of ensuring that the results of such an evaluation will be reliable and admissible. Contact us today for additional help.