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CSME|CAPDA Medico-Legal Summit - Dr. Rhonda Nemeth
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First Impressions: Managing the initial stages of assessing challenging claimants
Dr. Rhonda Nemeth, Ph.D., C.Psych

Using case examples, this talk focused on the challenges of assessing claimants who initially present with levels of anger, hostility, entitlement, vagueness, or despair that make it difficult to establish rapport and obtain information. Strategies for addressing these challenges were presented, with participation from the audience.

Case presentation 1: plaintiff assessment regarding a young woman who was alleged to have been deliberately struck by a man driving a pick-up truck after she had rejected his advances.

Below is an excerpt from the newspaper after the incident:

After 59 days on the run, Justin Hunter, a suspect wanted on a Canada-wide warrant in connection with an attempted murder case, was arrested by Kingston Police Friday afternoon. Investigators had received reliable information Hunter was armed with a firearm. Police have charged Hunter with attempted murder, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, leaving the scene of an accident, assault, being unlawfully in a dwelling, uttering a threat to cause bodily harm, forcible confinement and three counts of failing to comply with a recognizance.

The talk outlined the plaintiff’s history and relationship with the assailant, their psychological profiles, her injuries, rehabilitation to date, and prognosis.

Case presentation 2: plaintiff assessment regarding a woman involved in a relatively minor mva who subsequently experienced significant psychological symptoms. The talk outlined her extensive mental health history, how the accident exacerbated pre-existing PTSD, and the research examining the co-occurrence of pain and PTSD.

Relevant articles:
Pain and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Review of Clinical and Experimental Evidence, Moeller-Bertram, Keltner and Strigo, Neuropharmacology, 2012, 62, pages 586-597

An Examination of the Relationship Between Chronic Pain and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Otis, Keane and Kerns, Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, Volume 40 #5, September/October 2003, pages 397-406.

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