TBI Diagnoses Jump Almost 30% in Nation’s Emergency Rooms

A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that from 2006 to 2010, the rate of TBI diagnoses jumped dramatically. But whether that increase is the result of better diagnosis procedures, public education, or an increase in risky behaviors remains unclear.

The statistics uncovered by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine are remarkable. TBI diagnoses increased at a rate 8 times the rate of ER visits in general. In 2006, the percent of ER visits resulting in a diagnosis of TBI was only 1.7%. But by 2010, TBI was a diagnosis in 29.1% of all ER cases.

Most of this increase came in the categories of “concussion” and “unspecified head injury” and often were accompanied by only minor injuries. Most ER patients were discharged directly from the ER rather than being admitted to the hospital. Falls accounted for a majority of the TBI diagnoses.

One journalist was quick to point to increased public awareness as the cause of the increase. This was tied to public service efforts of schools, athletic departments, and professional sports teams. But the researchers point out that the largest demographics of TBI patients were children under 3 and adults over 60. These are not exactly the sports-playing age groups.

Another explanation may be tied to increased TBI screening in general-admission emergency rooms. Most diagnoses were not coming trauma centers or pediatric emergency departments. Instead, the researchers noted a “high and increasing burden for TBI care at nonspecialized centers.”

TBI is a complicated condition that benefits greatly from early diagnosis. If non-specified emergency rooms are doing more careful screening for concussions and brain injuries, then that could lead to improved treatment and outcomes for the many people who suffer from TBI related to auto-accidents every year. If you know someone who suffers from the effect of TBI, contact the legal experts at Christensen Law to find out how you can get your medical expenses covered.