Recent Decision Signals a Shift in Admissibility of SPECT Evidence at Trial

brain scan

In recent years, SPECT (Single-photon emission computerized tomography) scans had become controversial in the medical field for assisting in the diagnosis of a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

SPECT scans are a type of imaging that depict how blood flows to organs and tissues. As opposed to MRI or CT scans, which are used to view anatomy or structure, the SPECT images show areas of decreased perfusion that highlight abnormalities in brain function. In Meade v. Hussein (2021), ONSC 7850, Justice Bale found SPECT scans do not meet the reliability foundation test for novel scientific evidence.

A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court, Wabie. v. Wilson (2022), ONSC 4296 revisits this issue. The action related to a 2014 motor vehicle accident. The plaintiff was rear-ended at a low speed. Her injuries initially appeared to be limited to whiplash injuries but over time her physical and cognitive abilities changed. The MRI results came normal, and the family doctor referred her for a SPECT Scan. The results were abnormal in the areas of the brain that are the most common locations for a traumatic brain injury to be seen.

At trial, the defendant asked the Court to disregard the evidence entirely, relying on the Meade decision.

Justice Sutherland accepted the SPECT scan as evidence at trial. The court reasoned that the SPECT scan evidence in Meade was being used to diagnose a brain injury whereas the SPECT scan evidence in Wabie was being used to support a diagnosis of a brain injury that already existed.

So what’s next?

This decision opens up the doors for limited use of SPECT scans at trial. However, the admissibility is limited to be used as a secondary diagnostic tool.

If you or someone you know has sustained a head concussion or brain injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact our team at JEWELL RADIMISIS JORGE LLP for a free initial consultation.
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