MISDIAGNOSING A TBI INJURY: A COMMON OCCURRENCE IN THE EMERGENCY ROOMSeptember 19, 2016
Diagnosing a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) faces very few challenges because both the symptoms and signs of the patient are readily apparent. This is not the case with a mild traumatic brain injury because on many occasions the signs and/or objective findings (e.g. scans, test, etc) are so mild that the injury may go unnoticed even by the most experienced emergency room professionals/physicians.
A University of Washington study revealed a 56% misdiagnosis rate of traumatic brain injuries in the emergency room setting. Recently there have been an increasing number of reports claiming that brain injury misdiagnosis is becoming a prevalent issue among individuals with traumatic brain injuries. Some have stated that despite significant symptoms of brain injury, the patients were discharged after only receiving an analysis of the Glasgow Coma Scale.
It is also widely known that the extent of neurological examinations in the emergency room are poorly suited to diagnosing the subtle brain injury. Based on this, it is safe to say that the percentage of misdiagnosis of traumatic brain injuries in ER is definitely higher than what the University of Washington’s report states. It also safe to say that misdiagnosis of a TBI is a common occurrence in the emergency room.
Traumatic brain injuries are a serious public health problem in the U.S. Even though most of them do not contribute to a person’s death, traumatic brain injuries are no exception. Generally, people who sustain a mild traumatic brain injury (85%) will have their symptoms completely resolved within 3 to 6 months. However, there is substantial documentation of a “Miserable Minority” who will face life-altering changes after suffering a mild traumatic brain injury. This evidences the need for emergency room personnel and/or treating physicians to conduct a thorough evaluation of every person by using all available methods, including new technologies.
Individuals who show no signs of a severe head trauma and which are seeking medical attention will generally receive a standard history and physical evaluation. In other cases, other conventional diagnostic tests and studies will be performed such as CAT and MRI scans along with a Glasgow Coma Scale evaluation, only if the patient has experienced loss of consciousness, posttraumatic amnesia, or physical signs of skull fracture. Some authors and experts in the neuroscience field believe that this approach is “neither sensitive nor specific enough to identify individuals how have sustained mild traumatic brain injury” because in some cases the injuries are not detected by these scans.
If you believe you have suffered a mild traumatic brain injury, that you have been misdiagnosed and are currently experiencing life-altering symptoms as a result of such injury, we recommend you to contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.
As attorneys who specialize in TBI cases, we understand the gravity of this type of injury, even if they are commonly labeled as “mild.” Above all, we understand the devastating consequences that such injuries may cause. For this reason, we will thoroughly analyze your particular situation from the cause of the injury, the type of tests and procedures performed to you by emergency room professionals and/or treating physicians, to the symptoms you are currently experiencing. We feel true compassion for TBI victims and will do everything in our power you get fully compensated not only for your injury and damages, but for your pain and suffering as well. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.