Brain Scan

A Growing Problem: Traumatic Brain Injury Misdiagnosis in the ER

Prompt treatment is one of the most important things for a patient with a brain injury. The longer the injury is left untreated, the more time it has to progress: More and more brain cells are damaged and, eventually, some brain cells may die completely. It is easy to see why the frequent misdiagnosis of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in emergency rooms is a huge problem.

Why Are Brain Injuries Misdiagnosed?

Traumatic brain injuries are often misdiagnosed or go undetected for the following reasons:

  • The symptoms mimic those of another medical condition
  • The symptoms are mistaken as those of a mental illness
  • The symptoms are not immediately apparent (the patient may appear just fine on the outside)

Factor in the limited time you have with an ER doctor, or even a general physician, and that makes it all the more likely for a TBI to go undetected. If the patient has a tendency to minimize their own symptoms or wait for them to go away on their own, that likelihood is only increased.

Many patients with mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs), or concussions, have difficulty getting an accurate diagnosis for the same reasons. Unfortunately, the nature of an mTBI works against the patient, with very subtle symptoms that slowly get worse.

How Common Is Brain Injury Misdiagnosis?

According to a study published in the BMJ Open, only 23.1% of all studied emergency department patients who had been diagnosed with an mTBI had that diagnosis clearly noted in their medical notes.

Another study, published in 2014, found that over half of the participants had a missed TBI diagnosis. An accurate diagnosis was found to be more likely if the TBI was sustained in a motor vehicle accident, in large part because TBIs are so common among crash victims. Still, over 40% of crash victims who suffered TBIs were misdiagnosed. Seventy-five percent of patients with TBIs sustained because of something else, such as a fall, received a misdiagnosis.

Were You Misdiagnosed? Call Del Rio & Caraway for Help

At Del Rio & Caraway, P.C., our Sacramento personal injury lawyers advocate for victims of negligence. If you sustained a TBI because of someone else’s negligent actions, you may be compensated for your losses—even if you were misdiagnosed at first. Whether your injury was the result of a crash, a fall, or the like, we will fight to recover compensation to help you get back on your feet. We’ll stay by your side from start to finish.

To get your free consultation with a Sacramento attorney, reach out to us online or at (916) 229-6755.