Traumatic Brain Injury Victims May Be Getting Inadequate Care, Studies Show
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability for 1.7 million people living in the United States.
- This life-changing injury also contributes to about 30 percent of all injury deaths, leaving victims’ families with feelings of grief and emotional stress, and financial burdens.
- Not all TBI victims need to face a life with added struggles though. Researchers have recently concluded that fewer than half of the patients diagnosed with TBI received any type of follow-up symptom review or care within three months after injury, a time especially crucial since consequences can worsen rapidly without proper treatment.
- Additionally, most people who have had a brain injury will require rehabilitation to improve their abilities and perform daily activities. When a medical professional misses an opportunity to properly diagnose or treat a TBI, there may be a case for medical malpractice.
Study Says Doctors Are Too Relaxed in Providing Follow-up Care for Brain Injuries
A recent study published on May 25 in JAMA Network Open and led by researchers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, found there to be considerable gaps in follow-up care for patients with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and who have been discharged from the hospital. 831 patients participated in the study and “fewer than half of the patients reported receiving TBI educational materials at discharge or seeing a physician or other health care practitioner within three months after injury (42 and 44 percent, respectively).”
Other alarming study trends included:
- Roughly a third of the patients with a positive finding on computed tomography (CT) scan had not been scheduled to see some type of medical practitioner three months post the injury for assessment.
- Only 52 percent of the 279 patients with three or more moderate-to-severe post-concussive symptoms reported having seen a medical practitioner by three months.
How a Traumatic Brain Injury is Diagnosed and Treated Matters
The most serious TBI can easily become an emergency and consequences can worsen rapidly without the right diagnosis and treatment. Doctors will need to assess the situation quickly and provide the appropriate follow-up care to prevent further harm. Health care facilitators such as emergency room physicians, first responders, family care practitioners, radiologists and neurologists, as well as those professionals responsible for assessing a patient’s wellbeing should first be using tools such as the 15-point Glasgow Coma Scale test to help review the severity of the injury. A person’s ability to follow directions, speak, and how well they can move their eyes and limbs should be checked at this time. Those abilities which earn a low score (on a scale of three to 15) will indicate serious injuries and require further attention. In addition, a medical team should collect all information about the event which caused the injury and recognize any known symptoms to help judge the severity and need for further testing and treatment.
Other tools and resources professionals may need to use to help TBI patients include:
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan: A CT scan uses a series of X-rays to create a detailed view of the brain and quickly visualize fractures and uncover evidence of bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage), blood clots (hematomas), bruised brain tissue (contusions), and brain tissue swelling.
- Intracranial pressure monitor: Doctors may insert a probe through the skull to monitor pressure.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This test may be used after the person’s condition stabilizes, or if symptoms don’t improve soon after the injury.
Although treatment should be based on the severity of the injury, all persons with TBI usually needs to be monitored closely for any persistent, worsening or new symptoms and may require follow-up doctor appointments. Treatment can be medication, surgery, physical rehabilitation and visits with a neuropsychologist to help identify any lingering cognitive issues.
Traumatic Brain Injury Representation
With years of experience handling brain injury cases, Steve Wagner and Jason Reese understand the nuances required to succeed in complex brain injury cases. Our medical malpractice and brain injury attorneys at Wagner Reese can help restore the balance of power, providing you the legal support and advice you need so that you can focus on your own health and healing.
Connect with us by submitting our online form and our attorneys will review your information and respond promptly. If you wish to speak with us directly, please call (888) 204-8440.