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Are Traumatic Brain Injury Victims Receiving Needed Medical Care?

emergency-room-3323451_1920-copy-300x200Traumatic brain injury (TBI) issues are a frequent topic for us. If you have read any of our past blogs, then you know we have big concerns that TBI victims are not diagnosed, not treated and not understood by both the legal and medical systems. Many issues contribute to the lack of understanding and treatment. Even many medical professionals fail to understand the significance of TBI issues.

A recent research study published in JAMA Network Open asked an important question — Do patients with mild traumatic brain injury receive adequate levels of follow-up care? You can read my entire post for more discussion of this issue. If you want an immediate answer, then it is “no” on follow-up care. According to the study author, a large proportion of TBI patients do not receive follow-up care after a personal injury even when continuing to suffer postconcussive problems.

The study followed patients who had been to the emergency room with a TBI at 11 different hospitals. Each of these hospitals was a level 1 trauma center – A hopital that provides the highest level of care to trauma patients. If you want to know more about the distinction in hospitals, the Alabama Department of Public Health has a map that indicates the Level 1 trauma centers in our state. Sadly, only Huntsville, Birmingham and Mobile/Baldwin Counties presently have Level 1 hospitals. A Montgomery channel has even written about the lack of a Level 1 hospital in that part of the State. What does this tell us about the TBI study? It tells us that it followed patients treated at the best trauma hospitals. Keep that in mind as I suspect the percentage of patients with no follow-up is much higher when you consider other hospitals.

Here are a few of the troubling statistics from the study:

  • Approximately 58% of the patients did NOT receive TBI educational materials at discharge from the emergency room
  • Only 44% of the patients saw a medical professional in follow-up in the 3 months following discharge from the emergency room

Why do so many TBI patients not receive education or medical care for their condition? Many things contribute to the poor follow-up. Certainly, patients and their families often don’t understand the issues. And, many TBI victims look perfectly fine. It’s one thing for victims and families without medical training to not understand the problem. But, we should expect more from hospitals and emergency rooms.

In our law practice, we frequently deal with TBI victims and their families who have been left without follow-up medical care. It’s a tremendous ongoing issue. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find medical professionals with the expertise to treat these problems.

We need to be more proactive in helping injury victims who may have a TBI. I am encouraged by the recent research and articles I have read over the last couple years. Why? I believe awareness of this issue among medical professionals is growing. I also believe emergency rooms are now taking steps to test and diagnose head injury victims. That’s a great start for families following a serious accident and injury. With these new steps, I look forward to seeing the percentage of untreated TBI victims decline.

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At the Blackwell Law Firm, we frequently help individuals and families trying to recover from a serious personal injury. Many of our cases involve patients suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Both automobile accidents and workplace accidents are common causes of TBI. If you have questions about this issue, give us a call. We are happy to discuss your questions. From our office in Huntsville, we represent injured clients across Alabama.