The Underdiagnosis of Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries in Emergency Rooms

The Underdiagnosis of Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries in Emergency Rooms

Each year, millions of Americans seek medical treatment in emergency rooms for head-related trauma. While some head injuries may heal on their own accord without medical treatment, others can be much more serious and lead to long-term consequences for affected individuals.

Head and brain injuries are most commonly sustained after traumatic events or accidents, such as:

  • Falls
  • Traffic accidents
  • Physical assaults
  • Being struck by an object
  • Violent blows or jolts to the head

No matter how mild the head injury seems immediately after an accident, individuals who sustain trauma to this area of their body should get treated at a local hospital emergency room since some symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) can go undetected.

Unfortunately, recent studies have found that the underdiagnosis of mild TBIs, also known as concussions, is a pervasive problem in emergency room settings that can jeopardize a patient’s ability to seek the best possible recovery.

What Are Some Symptoms of Mild TBI?

Mild TBIs can have a wide range of physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms, some of which include:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Persistent headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Amnesia
  • Irritability or anger

Why Do Some TBIs Go Undiagnosed?

The main issue involving mild TBIs is that many of the related symptoms can be attributed to other conditions, especially if they take time to manifest and are not properly diagnosed immediately after the event that caused them. For instance, a person who sustains a mild TBI may attribute their late on-set symptoms to something like PTSD or even the stomach flu.

The reality is that it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a medical doctor to accurately diagnose a head or brain injury without running specific tests. In fact, unless there is physical trauma, such as an open wound, a concaved skull, or bleeding, TBIs can remain invisible and completely undetected.

Additionally, overcrowded emergency rooms can increase the chances of undiagnosed mild brain injuries in patients as there is often less time spent by doctors with patients on an individual level.

What Are the Long-Term Impacts of an Undiagnosed TBI?

While you expect that a medical doctor will have all the right answers, it’s an unfortunate reality that brain injuries are frequently misdiagnosed or remain undetected by physicians and other medical professionals. When this happens, patients are not given the right treatment and medical advice that they should be given to heal properly.

Ultimately, this can lead to irreversible lifelong consequences in various ways. For one, if a patient sustains a mild TBI and is not made aware of it, they may not know to adjust their activities and get adequate rest, both of which are crucial for a proper recovery.

This person may then go back to work, play sport, or partake in other seemingly innocuous activities that could actually put them at an increased risk of worsening their condition. Consequences of repetitive brain injuries can be much more severe than a one-time injury, with long-term impacts that may include:

  • Headaches
  • Personality changes
  • Forgetfulness
  • Ongoing depression and anxiety
  • Weakness and slow movements
  • Increased risk of secondary conditions

Turn to a Team Who Knows What You’re Going Through

It’s critical that you never attempt to self-diagnosis your own injuries, especially when it comes to those involving the head or the brain. If you believe that your injuries were misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, you should seek a second opinion from another doctor.

If you or someone you loved sustained a traumatic brain injury as the result of someone else’s negligence or the condition was worsened due to a misdiagnosis, turn to Kornfeld Law for the legal guidance you need during these trying times. We understand that it’s easy to feel alone in these situations, but we want you to know that that is far from the truth.

Our head attorney, Rob Kornfeld, sustained a life-altering traumatic brain injury in a 1985 motor vehicle accident. As such, Rob truly understands what it’s like to be injured and all the emotions that can come with it. He and his legal team are now committed to advocating on behalf of other brain injury victims and their families so they can focus on healing.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our firm at (425) 657-5255 if you would like to learn more about your legal options. We offer no-fee, no-obligation consultations, so there is nothing to lose by making the first step.


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