Why ER Doctors Often Fail to Diagnose a Traumatic Brain Injury
If a traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs at a construction site, in an auto accident, because a defective product explodes, or due to a workplace accident, the first place most victims go to is their local hospital emergency room. Patients rely on the ER to discover the TBI because early intervention can help save expenses and the necessary lifelong treatments for treating the TBI.
A March 2017 report by The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation found that ER departments are doing a poor job of diagnosing traumatic brain injuries. A TBI abnormality was found in only nine percent of CT scans where a TBI was suspected, woefully short of the actual number of patients who, time would tell, actually did have a TBI. Part of the problem is the lack of CT scan sensitivity to finding the TBI, especially if the TBI is mild.
Another study by Janet Powell Ph.D. (reported in the Archives of Physical Rehabilitation) also confirmed that over half of those patients who had a TBI were not diagnosed by the ER staff as having one
Why are ER doctors failing to make a proper TBI diagnosis?
Some of the reasons ER doctors and medical teams miss a TBI diagnosis are:
- The doctors are focusing on other injuries which appear more life-threatening
- Failure to properly diagnose the TBI by mistaking it for another condition
- Failure to document the TBI
- Failure to properly read the results of the CT scan
- Lack of a standardized approach to testing for a TBI
A delay in diagnosis not only hurts the patient’s chances for a medical recovery, delay can hurt the legal case too. A good Nashville TBI lawyer will tell you, it is not enough to just show there was negligence – that someone messed up. Victims and their families need to be able to demonstrate that the negligent act (such as speeding through a red light) caused the TBI. If the diagnosis is delayed, the insurance company may try to argue that the doctors were to blame for your problems and not the insurance carriers.
We sympathize with you. We understand just how crushing a TBI can be. People with a TBI sometimes die. Survivors often suffer memory loss, loss of taste, smell and other senses, or develop an inability to communicate. Many patients suffer from lifelong bouts of depression. If you’ve been injured, the attorneys at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm can help.