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Thursday 22 August 2019

All whiplash patients who attended spine specialist took legal action - and most stopped visiting after legal action finished, study says

Stock photo: Depositphotos
Stock photo: Depositphotos

Lynne Kelleher

A new study has found 100pc of Irish whiplash patients attending a spine specialist pursued legal action.

The researchers examined all the whiplash cases attending a specialist spine surgeon in Ireland over a 15-year period.

The NUI Galway study found the visits to the specialist stopped in almost all cases when the legal action was finalised.

The authors said: "Of note, despite the reported severity of whiplash symptoms, only a small proportion of patients returned for a further consultation once their litigation settled."

Patients were reviewed in the clinic twice on average during the litigation process with medico-legal reports requested on each occasion. Only 3pc of patients were seen in the clinic after receiving the last solicitor's letter.

"This suggests either that their symptoms may be related to the legal process and resolve once complete or that they see no further benefit in presenting to a specialist spine practice, given that the majority were managed conservatively", said the study.

The researchers said the patients may have continued to attend primary care for their ongoing pain concerns.

The study concluded that whiplash poses a "significant societal economic burden in Ireland".

The paper, published in the 'Irish Journal of Medical Science', examined the medical records of 301 patients who attended a specialist spine surgeon from 1996 to 2011 with potential soft tissue injuries following a road traffic accident.

Some 58pc had associated back pain and 93pc reported chronic neck pain. Only four received surgical intervention.

"All were ultimately involved in litigation," said the study.

Irish Independent

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