Making a psychiatric diagnosis requires specialist knowledge and experience, for this, you may need a psychiatric expert witness.
Most psychiatrists will be experienced to diagnose:
- Mood Disorders (including depression, bipolar affective disorder and persistent affective disorders such as cyclothymia and dysthymia)
- Schizophrenia and delusional disorders
- Neurotic/Stress-related disorders (including phobic anxiety disorders, panic disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and stress reactions)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder and adjustment disorder
- Personality disorders (e.g. emotionally unstable personality disorder and dissocial personality disorder)
However, there are certain disorders which require different expertise. These include:
- ADHD/Hyperkinetic disorder
- Autistic Spectrum disorders
- Eating disorders
- Learning disabilities
Getting the right Expert Witness
If you are thinking about instructing a psychiatrist to prepare a court report, you should feel comfortable in asking about his or her expertise. A reliable expert witness will tell you what he and she can and cannot do. If you are considering an expert report from Expert Court Reports Ltd, we can help you in finding the right expert.
When an expert witness psychologist makes a psychiatric diagnosis, the diagnosis should be evidenced by referring to recognised diagnostic criteria. This means that the expert will need to consider all available evidence including the findings of his or her examination of your client.
Sometimes an expert may need to request further documents. Most often, an expert will seek access to your client’s medical records. Although it is important to see your client’s medical records, we understand that your timeframes do not always allow for medical records to be obtained.
It is important that the expert considers all information available when making a diagnosis; it is not acceptable to ignore evidence which might reduce the weight of a diagnosis. This will, in turn, provide the evidence which will then be condensed into a psychiatric report for courts.
How will your client be diagnosed?
The two most commonly used manuals of diagnostic criteria are the ICD-10 (the tenth revision of the International Classification of Diseases) and the DSM-V (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). The majority of British psychiatrists will use the ICD-10 but you may find that some psychiatric experts will rely on the DSM-V, which is favoured by psychiatrists in the US. If you would like further information about the diagnostic criteria which psychiatrist use, please contact us for further details.
It is important that experts do not deviate from the diagnostic criteria unless he or she has sufficient expertise to substantiate his or her opinion.
For example, there are cases when there is growing and expert consensus about a diagnosis which is yet to be defined by the diagnostic criteria e.g. in the case of complex post-traumatic stress disorder; however, such examples are rare.