Hospital emergency rooms tend to be extremely busy and hectic places. On any given day, doctors and nurses must evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients suffering from a variety of medical issues ranging from lacerations and broken bones to severe infections and illnesses. If a condition is not properly diagnosed, and the patient does not receive prompt treatment, the condition can worsen, often resulting in permanent impairments. This is particularly true for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Unfortunately, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 1.7 million people suffer brain injuries each year. Yet far too many are undiagnosed and untreated.
According to a study conducted by the University of Washington, over half of all mild traumatic brain injuries were not properly diagnosed during the emergency room visit. In addition, up to 80 percent of all adults with a traumatic brain injury were released from the hospital the same day. Researchers believe that this is because ER doctors and nurses tend to rely on imaging to rule out severe brain injuries, without thoroughly screening for brain injuries that do not show up on a scan. A negative imaging result does not rule out a brain injury.
Why TBIs Are Often Misdiagnosed in ERs
TBI symptoms can be misinterpreted. Patients with TBIs often present with nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, and headaches. These symptoms can be interpreted as signs of a stroke, a neurological condition, or depression.
TBI symptoms may not be immediately present. It is not uncommon for TBI symptoms to remain dormant for days or weeks after the injury occurred.
Each TBI is unique. TBIs have been compared to snowflakes or fingerprints by brain experts. Because each person’s brain is unique, each TBI and the resulting symptoms are also unique.
No definitive testing method is currently available. Diagnosing a TBI requires a series of tests, rather than one single test. The number and types of tests will vary from patient to patient.
Poor TBI triage in ERs. ER doctors and nurses often triage patients based on how they respond to their questions. If the healthcare provider does not ask the right questions, they will not get a clear understanding of the TBI. As a result, they may not administer the appropriate tests.
ERs are extremely busy. Doctors and nurses only have a limited amount of time to evaluate a patient’s symptoms, which can lead to a misdiagnosis.
ERs generally do not provide follow-up care. Follow-up care for a TBI is often critical, particularly since many symptoms do not present themselves until days or weeks later. ERs do not typically provide this type of care. In some cases, the ER may fail to prescribe follow-up care due to a misdiagnosis.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Undiagnosed Traumatic Brain Injuries
If you or someone you love has suffered a traumatic brain injury that was not properly diagnosed by a healthcare professional, you are urged to contact our Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. Traumatic brain injuries require a timely diagnosis based on a thorough assessment of symptoms. If your doctors failed to do this, we will hold them accountable for their actions and pursue the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent medical malpractice victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.