Approximately 1.5 million brain injuries take place in the US annually, landing 200,000 people in the hospital and killing more than 52,000. The cost of treating these injuries every year is roughly $60 billion. Healthcare companies are always looking for ways to cut those costs. Unfortunately, medical care that focuses on cost rather than the health of the patient may result in conservative treatments for those with brain injury. A new study, however, shows that
The study, published in the March 6 edition of the Journal of Neurosurgery, looked at 1,000 patients who suffered TBI. Those who received aggressive, surgical intervention to relieve pressure on the brain had more successful outcome, especially in younger patients.
Although more costly during the initial phase of care, aggressive treatment lead to stronger recoveries and fewer disabilities for TBI victims. Ironically, a stronger recovery usually results in less costly long-term care, meaning that immediate, aggressive treatment may actually save money in the long run.
$100,000 Savings per Patient
The study’s lead author, Dr. Robert Whitmore noted in a press release, “This study clearly shows that aggressive care, for both young and older patients who suffer a severe traumatic brain injury, provides patients the best chance at surviving and recovering, and also reduces lifetime costs associated with TBI treatment.” The study indicates that treatment for a 20-year-old brain injury patient could cost $100,000 less overall by using aggressive treatment from the onset.
Defensive Medicine for TBI Victims and Their Families
After a TBI occurs, the importance of advocating for yourself or for your injured family member is paramount. Unfortunately, the current state of our medical system forces hospitals and doctors to sometimes make decisions based on finances, rather than what is best for the patients. Although this is completely unacceptable, it happens. Oftentimes, traumatic brain injury patients are completely unconscious and at the mercy of their caretakers, so family must play an active role in their care, requesting conferences and asking questions to determine if all options for care are being exhausted.
There are also programs that help families make decisions about their loved ones’ care. The Choosing Wisely campaign, launched by doctors looking to cut back on unnecessary costs, argues primarily against tests that provide no benefit to the patient. With respect to head injuries, the campaign indicates the uselessness of imaging studies, which rarely reveal the true problem and do nothing to improve the patient outcome.
Families should take note of this study and question doctors closely if a loved one suffers a brain injury. Insist that doctors monitor intracranial pressure in cases of severe head injury. Such monitoring may be the only clue doctors have that they should remove a portion of the skull to let the brain swell without becoming crushed inside the skull cavity.
If you or someone you love suffered a traumatic brain injury, and you think the doctors didn’t do enough to help, contact our office. Experienced attorneys are waiting to meet with you at no cost. We will review your case and help you decide if you should file a claim for damages. The law limits the time allowed to file, so act quickly.