Traumatic Brain Injuries in Medical Malpractice Cases

This Patient is receiving an MRI to check for Traumatic Brain Injuries.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when an external force causes brain damage. TBI survivors often face long-term disabilities, which may affect cognitive and motor function, as well as sensation and emotion. A TBI can impact a person’s ability to work, drive, maintain relationships, and engage in other activities of daily living.

The top causes of TBI include car accidents, sports injuries, and falls. When a medical provider misses a TBI diagnosis, the patient may not get needed treatment. This may cause the patient to suffer physically, emotionally, and financially. Negligent medical errors may also cause a TBI, particularly at birth.

A TBI that is caused by medical negligence or made worse by a medical error – such as a missed diagnosis or improper treatment – may form the basis of a medical malpractice lawsuit in some cases.

The lawyers at Tinker Law Firm, PLLC in Seattle can help if you believe that you or a family member were harmed by a TBI that was caused by the negligence of another, or if there was a delay in diagnosis and proper treatment. These cases require both a strong legal and medical understanding of TBI.

Our experienced attorneys can discuss your case in a free initial consultation. We’ll let you know how you can protect your rights under Washington law.

Call us today or fill out our online contact form to find out how we can help with a brain injury claim.

TBI Diagnostic Errors

Diagnostic errors include missed, delayed, and incorrect diagnoses. Johns Hopkins recently concluded, after reviewing 25 years of malpractice data, that diagnostic errors result in more lawsuits and more patient harm than any other form of medical negligence.

In TBI cases, early and accurate diagnosis is vital. Writing in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, Jean A. Langlois et al. note that, “To facilitate recovery, minimize the adverse outcome of TBI, and promote overall health, timely and appropriate access to both medical care and nonmedical services are critical.”

TBI is among the most disabling injuries. Even a mild concussion can cause long-term cognitive difficulties that affect an individual’s ability to work and perform daily tasks. TBI can also increase a patient’s risk of other health problems, including alcohol abuse (nearly two times as likely), epilepsy (11 times more likely), and death (7.5 times more likely). The risk of depression and Alzheimer’s disease are also increased in TBI victims.

Diagnostic errors can occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • Failure to identify a potential TBI and seek care.
  • Failure to order appropriate tests (such as a CT scan or MRI).
  • Communication errors (so-called “handoff errors,” such as might occur between a radiologist and a doctor).
  • Errors in following-up and tracking diagnostic test results.

TBI Treatment Errors

Assuming that a TBI has been diagnosed, treatment can begin. No two cases of TBI are alike, and treatment varies widely from patient to patient.

Certain steps, especially in the intensive initial phases of treatment, may make the difference between life and death. Devices such as a ventilator, may be needed to keep a patient alive immediately following an accident. Emergency surgery may also be required to address bleeding, repair a fractured skull, or reduce brain swelling.

Lapses in treatment or inappropriate treatment at this stage could be fatal and may warrant a wrongful death claim. If the patient survives, lack of treatment or improper treatment may fail to address the worst effects of a TBI.

A medication error could also negatively affect, or even kill, a TBI victim. Brain injury patients may be good candidates for a whole host of pharmacological interventions – including everything from analgesics to anti-convulsants to sedatives. Mismanagement of medications for acute TBI patients can worsen their condition, causing increased brain damage or even death.

TBI Caused by Medical Errors at Birth

TBI may be caused by the inappropriate use of a vacuum extractor or forceps. Used appropriately, brain injury from these tools is uncommon. However, improper use of these delivery tools can have catastrophic results.

Cerebral palsy is one type of disorder that may result from a preventable head injury at birth. You can read more about cerebral palsy and birth injuries here.

Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Malpractice Attorney in Seattle

Brain injuries are complicated from a medical and a legal standpoint.

It is critical that you discuss your case with a highly qualified lawyer. The attorneys at Tinker Law Firm, PLLC are experienced in reviewing cases that involve medical errors regarding the diagnosis and treatment of TBI, as well as TBI caused by negligent errors during labor and delivery. Our lawyers work with doctors, nurses, and other medical experts to review medical records for indicators of negligent errors in the process of diagnosing and treating TBI.

To talk to our team about your situation, call us today or fill out our online contact form for a free claim evaluation.