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Why doctors misdiagnose concussions

A visit to the emergency room is seldom a good thing. People often visit an emergency room after falls, car crashes, or other accidents that can cause brain injuries. Brain injuries like concussions are serious and can be complex as people experience symptoms differently.

The American Journal of Emergency Medicine published a study in 2018 that showed 16 percent of patients with head injuries that met the World Health Organization's concussion criteria did not receive the proper diagnosis.

What's the big deal?

Concussions that go undiagnosed can have serious consequences. Two groups that are most at-risk for becoming the victim of a concussion misdiagnosis are young children and senior citizens.

Older adults are especially susceptible to concussions after falls and because this population often takes blood thinners. Emergency room staff should evaluate seniors for head injuries after falls even if they have no symptoms to rule out bleeding on the brain.

Children pre-school aged and younger can sustain a head injury while playing on the playground, or any number of ways. Because children of this age have a more difficult time articulating potential concussion symptoms than even older children, it's important for parents to look out for concussion warning signs like increased crying, chronic headaches, and changes in behavior and mood after a blow to the head.

How patients can fight for their care

Missed or misdiagnosed concussions are big mistakes. Patients who don't receive the care they need for their concussion may experience worsening symptoms or extended recovery times. If a concussed patient requires rest but their doctor doesn't warn them that activity may worsen their injury, they may unknowingly harm themselves.

Concussions can also present themselves physically and cognitively. It's important that someone who has had trouble thinking, headaches, nausea, mood or sleep pattern changes after a hit to the head to communicate that to their doctor.

This doesn't take the responsibility off the health care industry to recognize and treat potential concussions. While most patients do receive the proper concussion care, many do not and that means that every patient needs to be prepared to stand up for their right to treatment.

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Law Offices of Raymond J. Slomski, P.C.

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