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A study of the effect of legal settlement on post-concussion symptoms.
  1. C R Fee,
  2. W H Rutherford
  1. Department of Accident, Ulster Hospital, Dundonald.

    Abstract

    Forty-four consecutive patients with concussion for whom a medico-legal report had been written were followed up for 3-4 years after their accidents. Three cases were still pending at the end of the study. Fifty-seven per cent complained of symptoms when the medico-legal reports were written (mean interval from accident 12.9 months), 39% had symptoms at the time of settlement (mean interval 22.1 months) and 34% had symptoms one year later. When these results were compared with a general series from the same department some years earlier, it was found that the symptoms at the time of writing the reports were not significantly different from symptoms at 6 weeks in the earlier series, but the symptoms one year after settlement were almost two-and-a-half times greater than the symptoms at 12 months in the general series. No evidence could be found to suggest any organic basis for the higher symptom rate in the litigation series. It is suggested that the litigation process itself is a factor in the persistence of symptoms and this effect continues after legal settlement has been reached. Early settlement of the cases might significantly reduce morbidity.

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