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The truth about delayed and missed traumatic brain injury diagnosis

December 16, 2010 by Steven M. Gursten

A Michigan TBI lawyer discusses one woman’s story of being on the brink of death – because her doctors failed to diagnose her brain injury properly

I read a compelling personal story called The Calm Before the Brain Injury was Discovered. We simply assume that medicine and science are up to the task, when in reality many injuries, and especially traumatic brain injury, are often completely missed, ignored, or discounted by medical doctors – at tremendous cost. Anyone who has been frustrated with a doctor and how medicine treats perceived “mild” to “moderate” traumatic brain injury as well as even serious TBI will understand the personal journey this woman went through.

As a traumatic brain injury lawyer, I understand that many doctors and emergency rooms fail to diagnose traumatic brain injury (one study puts the number at 80 percent). Lives are shattered because of delays at diagnosis and treatment. And many who are recovering from auto accidents face problems getting treatment paid for once TBI after a car accident is diagnosed, because it wasn’t immediately diagnosed in an ER or by a family doctor in the weeks following a car accident. This is a terrible problem that effects tens of thousands, from the accident victim, to the high school football player, to our soldiers fighting overseas

In this article, the author, Marilyn Berger, describes her personal experience with what started as lethargy and loss of interest in some of her favorite activities. Turns out she had a subdural hematoma from a fall she’d taken on her bicycle two months earlier.

Berger ‘s two month delay, caused by all of her treating doctors minimizing or just ignoring her symptoms, nearly cost her life.

TBI lawyer cites studies showing hospitals routinely miss brain injuries

Today, there are respected studies showing that hospital ERs routinely miss traumatic brain injuries — up to 80 percent of the time.

Why is this happening? Doctors now understand that the brain actually goes into a hyper-metabolic state as it tries to protect itself after an injury. There is an uptake of glucose and therefore, especially in the acute phase of a traumatic brain injury, this uptake of hypermetabolic activity actually masks many of the symptoms of brain injury.

In turn, the injured brain makes the routine questions and gross neurological examination seem normal. This means doctors must be better at being aware of brain injuries as a possibility and detecting them in other ways.

Our traumatic brain injury lawyers warn clients and loved ones to look out for possible symptoms of brain injury, following a car accident or truck accident. Symptoms to watch for include nausea, headaches, problems with memory or concentration, sleepiness and vomiting.

Sadly, a delay in diagnosis means a delay in brain injury treatment. I’ve seen car accident victims who could made excellent recoveries if they were given the best medical care up front. Thankfully for Ms. Berger, she was saved in time.

Steven M. Gursten is a member of the American Association for Justice Traumatic Brian Injury Group and the Sarah Jane Brain Project. Steve received a trial verdict of $5.65 million for a TBI victim; the largest reported auto negligence verdict in Michigan for the year.

Related information:

Traumatic brain injury from auto accidents in Michigan

Michigan traumatic brain injury law: The closed-head injury exception

What lawyers need to know: The critical connection between TBI and chronic pain

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (800) 968-1001 for a free consultation with a traumatic brain injury lawyer. We can help.

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