Every March, Brain Awareness Week comes, and this year it will be hosted from March 12 to 18th. The purpose of BAW is to increase public awareness of brain research. This research helps discover new treatments for brain damage, diagnose brain disabilities easier, and even research degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
In recognition of Brain Awareness Week, we wanted to talk about traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and how it is critical that victims with a TBI seek medical treatment immediately.
What Louisville Residents Need to Know about TBIs
A traumatic brain injury covers a broad array of disabilities and symptoms. Therefore, it is a complex diagnosis, but one that must be made and addressed. Some TBIs could become life-threatening, while others can become disabling if they are misdiagnosed.
What Is a TBI?
A TBI can range from a mild loss of consciousness to a penetrating injury to the brain. The impact of a TBI varies depending on the severity of the injury. There are various levels of TBIs, which include:
- Concussion – Concussions can lead to difficulties and impairments that affect a victim for the rest of his or her life. Whiplash in a motor vehicle accident could cause a concussion, and leave the victim with long-term consequences. Concussions are caused by direct blows or violent shaking of the head. Concussions can take a few months to years for a full recovery.
- Contusion – Contusions are direct impacts on the brain, which can lead to bruising or bleeding inside. A large contusion may require surgical removal to prevent long-term damage.
- Coup-Contrecoup – An injury on the impact site and opposite side of the brain. This can occur in a motor vehicle accident when the brain strikes both sides of the skull.
- Penetration – This is a physical impact on the brain that comes through the skull, such as a bullet, sharp object, or knife.
- Diffuse Axonal – These injuries are from violent shaking or rotation of the head, often seen in Shaken Baby Syndrome.
As you can see, there are various types of TBIs for a physician to diagnose, and each will have their set of symptoms and complications. Regardless, a physician is trained to recognize the symptoms of a brain injury, and when they fail to diagnose a victim correctly, they could be found liable for malpractice.
Levels of a TBI
There are scales, such as the Glasgow Coma Scale, which helps physicians diagnose the severity of a TBI.
- Mild – Mild TBIs can have a loss of consciousness or no loss, and sometimes the testing and scans appear normal. Mild TBIs should be diagnosed any time there is a change in mental status at the time of the injury, including being dazed or confused.
- Moderate – Moderate TBIs typically occur from non-penetrating strikes but can include loss of consciousness, confusion, and issues with behavior or cognition.
- Severe – Severe brain injuries are life-threatening and should be diagnosed immediately, including crushing blows to the head, penetrating injuries, and those that harm delicate brain tissue.
Common Signs and Symptoms
TBIs can have no symptoms, while other times there are signs that a person has suffered a brain injury. These symptoms include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Decreased levels of consciousness
- Seizures or convulsions
- Unequal dilation of the pupils
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to sound or lights
- Behavioral changes
- Sensory issues, including difficulty with sight, taste, or hearing
How Is a TBI Misdiagnosed?
Due to the life-long effects of a TBI, early diagnosis is critical. Some TBIs do not require any treatment, but other times immediate surgery may be necessary. Typically, a brain injury is misdiagnosed or missed entirely because:
- A qualified medical professional did not make the initial exam. Traumatic brain injuries, such as ruling out an injury in an emergency room, should be done by a neurological professional; not the emergency room doctor.
- The examination did not include any brain imaging tools, such as an MRI, CAT scan, or PET scan to rule out damage to the brain. Even at early stages, these imaging tools can help physicians see if there is a potential injury and address it before it becomes something more serious.
- The examination ignored the potential for injury or the physical and mental symptoms. For example, someone suffered a traumatic motor vehicle accident, and the physician did not assess the person’s consciousness or ignored their dizziness as anxiety from the crash.
What Are the Legal Ramifications of a Brain Injury Being Missed?
Any delay in treatment can be fatal, especially for brain bleeds or swelling. Also, there are physical, financial, and emotional costs that come with a missed diagnosis.
The legal ramifications of a missed diagnosis can include:
- Missed Disability Payments – When a patient is misdiagnosed, they could miss out on disability payments, which would have helped them financially while out of work or paying for the medical costs of their injury. Furthermore, they may be denied disability until officially diagnosed.
- Medical Malpractice – Any time there is a missed diagnosis or delay in necessary treatment, a patient may be able to file a malpractice lawsuit against the doctor that failed to diagnose them.
Consult with a Attorney if Your TBI Was Misdiagnosed
If you had a misdiagnosed TBI or a serious delay in treatment, you might be entitled to compensation. Schedule a consultation today with attorney Seth Gladstein at Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC. You may be entitled to compensation for past, present, and future medical costs. You may receive compensation for your lost wages, emotional and physical suffering, and future losses as well.
Schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation at 502-791-9000 or contact us online.