You hit your head. It could have been a car accident, work accident, or sports-related injury. You go to the ER expecting prompt, effective treatment of your condition. Yet the overworked and understaffed emergency department fails to adequately screen for a traumatic brain injury, releasing you too soon without a proper diagnosis or recommendation for follow-up care. Your brain injury worsens. You might experience physical, mental, cognitive, and emotional symptoms. Your doctors now tell you that you could have benefited from earlier treatment and an earlier diagnosis.
Unfortunately, situations like these happen far too frequently. If emergency room staff fails to properly screen you for a brain injury and your condition worsens as the result, they may found liable for medical malpractice.
Screening Tools in the ER are Lacking
When a trauma victim comes to the emergency department in a coma, it’s obvious they have experienced a brain injury. But, for people for milder TBIs, it can be difficult to properly diagnosis the condition. A person with a concussion may seem alert and awake but actually have sustained brain damage.
Unfortunately, screening tools are limited in the emergency room and a lot relies on a doctor’s clinical experience and diagnostic skill. Right now, the three major methods of evaluating a brain injury in the emergency department are:
- Physical exam. When patients come to the ER complaining of a head injury, their vital signs will be taken and they will undergo a physical examination. A doctor, nurse, or technician may utilize the Glasgow Coma Scale to assess consciousness in a patient. The physician looks for eye response, motor response, and verbal response. The information is recorded and evaluated. They’ll ask you about other symptoms, from nausea to dizziness. If you meet any of the criteria for a TBI, you may be referred for further testing.
- CT scan. CT scans, also called CAT scans, are studies that produce images of the body. You may undergo a CT scan of the brain—which simply involves a short test in a CT scan machine—to determine if there is any brain damage. These scans should be done as quickly as possible.
- MRI. An MRI is similar to a CT scan, as it takes images of the inside of the body, but it uses magnetic energy and pulses of radio wave energy to take its pictures. An MRI of the brain may help to diagnose a TBI.
If the doctor fails to take your symptoms seriously, fails to order the right scans, and releases you too soon, your brain damage may worsen. Your loved one may have even died as the result.
Consult our Washington D.C. or Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys for More Information
The thought of filling a claim for medical malpractice can seem overwhelming. Do not fear—the attorneys at Schochor, Staton, Goldberg, and Cardea, P.A. have been handling these types of cases for more than three decades. We have a vast and thorough knowledge of state and national laws regarding medical malpractice, understand the court system, and hire only the most capable litigators to fight your claim. Call us today at 410-234-1000 or complete a contact form to learn more.