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Are You Getting the Right Treatment for Your Serious Injury?

When you go to the hospital you expect the doctors and nurses there to assess your situation and provide or refer you to the right treatment for your serious injury. But a new study casts doubt on that assumption.

Were You Undertriaged?

According to the new study put out by the Center for Pediatric Trauma Research and the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, 34% of major trauma patients were “undertriaged” in 2010. 40% of those were diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury – the most common injury to be under-diagnosed and under-treated. That means that rather than being referred to level I or level II trauma centers, seriously injured patients are given less than the best treatment available for their injuries.

The prospects were particularly dire for the elderly. 54% of patients over age 85 were undertriaged. The number was still nearly half for patients ages 75-84. Even the least likely group (ages 18-54) were still undertriaged 22% of the time. That’s 1 in 5 working adults not getting the care they need.

Why Are So Many Undertriaged?

So how can so many people be falling through the cracks? Huiyun Xiang, MD, PhD, MPH, the senior author of the study chalks it up to a number of factors:

  • Distance to Trauma Centers: Almost 43 million people in the U.S. Live over an hour from a level I or level II trauma treatment facility. That makes it hard for rural Americans to receive the treatment they need.
  • Untrained Decision Making: Most people who are injured don’t need an ambulance, so family and friends decide where to take a person with a serious injury instead of a medical professional. That’s why you need to know what to look for to detect a traumatic brain injury.
  • Lack of Training: Particularly when it comes to the elderly, many medical professionals don’t have the training to properly triage seriously injured patients while respecting their end-of-life directives.
  • Lack of Facilities: The simple truth is that America can’t give everyone the right treatment for their serious injury. The study revealed that for every serious injury patient to be treated in level I or level II trauma centers, they would have to increase their capacity by 51%.

What Can You Do to Get the Right Treatment?

With treatment numbers like these, patients and family members need to be their own best advocates. Treatment decisions are made on the way to the facility and quickly upon arrival. You need to know what to say to protect your loved one. After the initial triage stage, be sure to get a top medical and legal team to help you make the long term decisions and get the insurance company to cover your care. If you or someone you know was seriously injured in an auto accident, contact David Christensen of Christensen Law for a free consultation today.