- 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
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.