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5.16.5 Use of psychologists
Section 5 of the MRCA defines a medical practitioner as "...a person registered or licensed as a medical practitioner under a law of a State or Territory that provides for the registrations or licensing of medical practitioners." This does not necessarily preclude the use of psychologists for the purposes of assessing permanent impairment.
The Departement takes a broad view as to the acceptability of psychologist evidence where such evidence is favourable to the client. In the case where the client wants to use their treating psychologist for the purpose of a PI assessment, there is nothing legislatively preventing this. Such evidence is persuasive, but should not be considered in isolation of, or to over-ride any primary evidence from a GP or psychiatrist.
At the PI assessment stage, the report of the psychologist might be used to determine the level of impairment, however this should be considered alongside any other medical evidence on file, regarding the client's accepted condition. The delegate will need to weigh up all the evidence, and if there are reports from a psychiatrist (used for Initial Liability or Incapacity purposes) or a GP that does not support the psychologists report, the delegate should seek clarification or further evidence.
Essentially, where a treating psychologist provides evidence that is not contradicted by evidence on file from a psychiatrist or GP with a medical doctorate, delegates can consider this evidence for the purposes of a PI assessment. A psychologist opinon should not be preferred above that of a psychiatrist where contradictory evidence exists, rather clarification should be obtained if this occurs.
The appropriateness of using reports from a psychologist lies with a delegate to determine, based on the specific circumstances of each case. For example, it may be appropriate to use a psychologist report where the client engages more regularly with the psychologist than psychiatrist, who only sees the client for the prescription of medication and review. Where a client has both a treating psychiatrist and psychologist who regularly treat the client, it may be appropriate to use a report from the psychiatrist.