This site uses cookies.

Medical Opinions in Housing Disrepair Cases - Dr Mark Burgin

06/10/21. Dr. Mark Burgin BM BCh (oxon) MRCGP discusses how a solicitor prepares the evidence for a medical expert writing a report on the effect of damp on health.

The World Health Organisation states that damp causes poor health and does not suggest trying to explain why the toxins released by mould can cause damage or allergies.

To prove harm all one requires is a damp meter and the smell of damp but the severity of symptoms such as cough, wheeze, sinus headaches and rash can vary.

Some individuals are unusually susceptible such as babies or those with allergies and other underlying health problems.

Bacterial infections are more common because once there is damage to body surface bacteria can enter more easily.

The surveyor’s role

The surveyor can assist the medical expert by describing the physical characteristics of the mould (black or green, flat or bulky and the associated smell).

The distribution of the mould in the house is also important to explain why some members of the family have been more affected than others.

Evidence of remedial work can assist the medical expert when discussing changing patterns of symptoms over time.

Taking photos and samples of the mould are not usually required unless there has been a severe reaction causing death when criminal charges will be considered.

Mental health and stress

Living in substandard conditions can cause high levels of stress in susceptible individuals and even the most stoical will admit that it ‘gets them down a bit’.

The solicitor can assist the medical expert by using a check list of psychological symptoms (such as on my personal injury (accident) questionnaire. www.drmarkburgin.co.uk

When claimants see the list they can readily indicate relevant symptoms and may even disclose a hidden psychological illness that requires treatment.

The stress of not being able to bring friends home, damp smell on the clothes, increased costs of replacing damp damaged carpets can be significant.

Testing for susceptibility

Even where a claimant has suffered a severe reaction (requiring hospital admission or a course of steroids) the treating physicians may not be aware of the exposure to mould.

Testing may be essential for a good clinical outcome and the lawyer should be proactive in contacting the claimant’s doctors about the issue.

RAST tests can show an increased IgE or reaction to mixed moulds and can be followed up by IgE specific for a particular mould or skin tests.

Interpretation of immunology tests is generally something that should be left for immunologist experts in high value cases.

Conclusions

The solicitor can be prepared before the medical expert meets the household who are suffering from symptoms that they attribute to exposure to mould.

The surveyor’s role is the key the case not only in establishing breach but also in assisting the medical expert by assessing the severity of the exposure.

The solicitor can use simple lists to help claimants describe their emotional responses to living in a damp smelling house.

In a severe case the solicitor may best placed to arrange a specialist to investigate the claimant’s illness and prevent further severe attacks.

Doctor Mark Burgin, BM BCh (oxon) MRCGP is on the General Practitioner Specialist Register.

Dr. Burgin can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 0845 331 3304 website drmarkburgin.co.uk

Image ©iStockphoto.com/andrewmedina

All information on this site was believed to be correct by the relevant authors at the time of writing. All content is for information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. No liability is accepted by either the publisher or the author(s) for any errors or omissions (whether negligent or not) that it may contain. 

The opinions expressed in the articles are the authors' own, not those of Law Brief Publishing Ltd, and are not necessarily commensurate with general legal or medico-legal expert consensus of opinion and/or literature. Any medical content is not exhaustive but at a level for the non-medical reader to understand. 

Professional advice should always be obtained before applying any information to particular circumstances.

Excerpts from judgments and statutes are Crown copyright. Any Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of OPSI and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland under the Open Government Licence.