How do I know if a Psychologist can do the job as an Expert Witness? Do I need a psychiatrist instead?

What does a Psychologist do? Are they qualified to be an Expert Witness?

A psychologist has training in treatment of mood disorders, like depression, or life coping mechanisms. They can diagnose some psychological disorders.

A psychologist may not prescribe medicine or evaluate medical conditions.  A psychologist cannot prescribe an anti-depressant, though they may suspect one will help their patient.  The psychologist must turn to a psychiatrist.

There are excellent psychologists who serve as knowledgeable and well-qualified Expert Witnesses when their opinions are within the purview of their training and licensing.

Can a psychologist interpret lab reports or medical records?

No, a psychologist is not licensed to practice medicine. 

Many psychologists read and understand medical records, especially those of a treating psychologist practicing in their own field.

Familiarity and ease reading medical records, however, is not the same as rendering medical opinions in Court as an Expert Witness. 

Absent medical training, a psychologist may well misinterpret medical information or improperly presume a diagnosis when complicated medical factors are present.

For example, diagnosing anxiety is within a psychologist’s “sandbox,” but there is a risk if, for example, anxiety symptoms are a possible side effect of a medication for a different medical condition.

Can a psychologist interpret lab reports or medical records?

No, a psychologist is not licensed to practice medicine. Proper interpretation of lab reports and medical records require a medical license. 

Many psychologists read and understand medical records, especially those of a treating psychologist practicing in their own field.

Familiarity and ease reading medical records, however, is not the same as rendering medical opinions in Court as an Expert Witness. 

Absent medical training, a psychologist may well misinterpret medical information or improperly presume a diagnosis when complicated medical factors are present.

For example, diagnosing anxiety is within a psychologist’s “sandbox,” but there is a risk if, for example, anxiety symptoms are a possible side effect of a medication for a different medical condition.

Can a psychologist be a Medical Review Officer, to review lab/toxicology reports?

A psychologist cannot be a Medical Review Officer. Only a licensed medical doctor qualifies. Dr. Adhia holds additional certification as a Medical Review Officer, which reflects training and qualifications in interpreting lab reports, which can be helpful in cases with drug use in the workplace, criminal behavior and drug addiction, medication or interactions, and Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault or DFSA.  Dr. Adhia has served as an expert witness and/or treated patients with such concerns.

Can a psychologist address physical injuries?

Injuries can be complex and there may be more than one medical factor impacting symptoms. In the case of an accident, it is not uncommon for a person to receive medications to manage symptoms, such as for pain. A psychologist cannot order physical therapy or other rehabilitation treatment. A psychologist, unlike a psychiatrist, is likely unqualified to determine prognosis or competency restoration after medical treatment  A psychologist can make a recommendation

Fewer than 1% of licensed Psychologists have Board-Certification in Forensic Psychology.

Medico-Legal training is almost unheard of among psychologists. In fact, only a tiny percentage of licensed psychologists achieve Board-Certification in Forensic Psychology and are limited in their forensic conclusions.

The qualifications of Opposing Counsel’s Expert

If your Expert Witness is a Psychiatrist and opposing counsel has retained a Psychologist, qualifications and credentials become especially important to a jury. If a medical condition of any kind is present, the psychologist may even be disqualified from testifying about its impact.

Learn more about the distinction between psychiatrists and psychologist in the article Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist.

How do I know if a Psychologist can

do the job as an Expert Witness?

Do I need a psychiatrist instead?

What does a Psychologist do? Are they qualified to be an Expert Witness?

A psychologist has training in treatment of mood disorders, like depression, or life coping mechanisms. They can diagnose some psychological disorders.

A psychologist may not prescribe medicine or evaluate medical conditions.  A psychologist cannot prescribe an anti-depressant, though they may suspect one will help their patient.  The psychologist must turn to a psychiatrist.

There are excellent psychologists who serve as knowledgeable and well-qualified Expert Witnesses when their opinions are within the purview of their training and licensing.

Can a psychologist interpret lab reports or medical records?

No, a psychologist is not licensed to practice medicine. Proper interpretation of lab reports and medical records require a medical license. 

Many psychologists read and understand medical records, especially those of a treating psychologist practicing in their own field.

Familiarity and ease reading medical records, however, is not the same as rendering medical opinions in Court as an Expert Witness. 

Absent medical training, a psychologist may well misinterpret medical information or improperly presume a diagnosis when complicated medical factors are present.

For example, diagnosing anxiety is within a psychologist’s “sandbox,” but there is a risk if, for example, anxiety symptoms are a possible side effect of a medication for a different medical condition.

Can a psychiatrist interpret lab reports or medical records?

Yes, a psychiatrist is qualified to interpret lab reports or imaging and can provide medical treatment to patients in a hospital or clinical setting in addition to private practice.

Can a psychologist be a Medical Review Officer, to review lab/toxicology reports?

A psychologist cannot be a Medical Review Officer. Only a licensed medical doctor qualifies. Dr. Adhia holds additional certification as a Medical Review Officer, which reflects training and qualifications in interpreting lab reports, which can be helpful in cases with drug use in the workplace, criminal behavior and drug addiction, medication or interactions, and Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault or DFSA.  Dr. Adhia has served as an expert witness and/or treated patients with such concerns.

Can a psychologist address physical injuries?

Injuries can be complex and there may be more than one medical factor impacting symptoms. In the case of an accident, it is not uncommon for a person to receive medications to manage symptoms, such as for pain. A psychologist cannot order physical therapy or other rehabilitation treatment. A psychologist, unlike a psychiatrist, is likely unqualified to determine prognosis or competency restoration after medical treatment  A psychologist can make a recommendation

Fewer than 1% of licensed Psychologists have Board-Certification in Forensic Psychology.

Medico-Legal training is almost unheard of among psychologists. In fact, only a tiny percentage of licensed psychologists achieve Board-Certification in Forensic Psychology and are limited in their forensic conclusions.

The qualifications of Opposing Counsel’s Expert

If your Expert Witness is a Psychiatrist and opposing counsel has retained a Psychologist, qualifications and credentials become especially important to a jury. If a medical condition of any kind is present, the psychologist may even be disqualified from testifying about its impact.

Learn more about the distinction between psychiatrists and psychologist in the article Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist.