Disturbing Study Shows Psychiatric Illness More Likely After Brain Injury

A 1999 study, Rate of psychiatric illness 1 year after traumatic brain injury, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, sought to determine whether patients who experience traumatic brain injury might be at increased risk of developing psychiatric illness. No prior study that had considered this possibility used accepted research standards or chose a sufficiently large sample size.

The researchers who designed this study relied on a traditional two-state diagnostic method. Over the period of a year, Wales’ Cardiff Royal Infirmary admitted 3,667 adults (over age 17) with a head injury. Each patient, admitted between July 1994 and June 1995, suffered from traumatic brain injuries. All participation was voluntary, and the study included 196 patients, 65% of whom were male. Patient ages ranged from 18-94 years. Each participant completed a questionnaire, and doctors conducted a standardized interview on 164 patients who exhibited high indicator levels for psychiatric illness.

One year following their TBI trauma, of 62 patients identified by the questionnaire, 30 had been diagnosed with a psychiatric problem, per the ICD-10’s criteria, and 20 patients had been diagnosed with multiple psychiatric issues.

The most common illnesses in the test group included depression and panic disorder. The study noted a higher rate of psychiatric illness in those who had suffered a prior traumatic brain injury. No statistically significant relationship existed between those who tested positive for mental illness and those who sought compensation in a legal claim.

As we’ve discussed in previous posts about scientific studies of TBI, correlation does not imply causation. In other words, just because researchers can find associations between two variables does not mean one has caused the other. In this study, for instance, many factors could have contributed to higher rates of psychological illness, including:

History of mental illness;

  • Age;
  • Diet;
  • Level of formal education;
  • Degree of brain trauma;
  • Nature of the TBI-induced disability;
  • Etc.

To strategize effectively to obtain fair compensation and excellent medical care after a brain injury, you need qualified, smart and skilled people on your side. Consider connecting with the Washington D.C. brain injury lawyers at Regan, Zambri & Long today for a consultation. Our D.C. medical malpractice attorneys can help you and your family understand your potential options to seek compensation.

9 Winter Safety Tips From the Red Cross

This winter is set to be one of the coldest on record, with massive cold air fronts predicted for most of the United States. Fortunately, the American Red Cross offers steps anyone can take to ensure their safety during this inclement season.

While we settle into the winter season, get acquainted with appropriate seasonal safety habits. A little bit of preparation can go a long way toward ensuring everyone has a great time in the snow. Follow these 9 safety tips from the Red Cross to avoid possible dangerous situations this winter:

  • Know the symptoms of frostbite, which can include: numbness, flushed gray, white, or blue skin, or numb or waxy skin.
  • Always shut down space heaters and ensure fireplace embers are fully extinguished prior to leaving a room or going to bed.
  • The signs of hypothermia include shivering, dizziness, confusion, and exhaustion. If you notice these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Layers of lightweight clothing trap heat and regulate body temperature. Also, don’t overlook necessities like gloves and a hat.
  • Continuously run water, even at a trickle, to prevent frozen pipes. Maintain a consistent thermostat night and day.
  • Set space heaters on a firm, level surface, and keep flammable objects a minimum of three feet away.
  • Stoves and ovens are not designed to heat homes; they are a fire hazard if left on.
  • When using a fireplace, make sure you have a metal or glass fire screen large enough to prevent rolling logs or sparks from escaping.
  • Protect your pets. If they must reside outdoors, ensure they have adequate shelter for warmth and a secure source of drinkable water.

The coldest, darkest poses quite a few safety challenges. Adhere to the tips above and stay safe, no matter what Old Man Winter throws your way.

How Is the NFL Handling Its Concussion Problem? A Look at the Statistics

Football is a dangerous sport. Players across the nation of all ages and levels of talent suffer injuries every day, from sprained ankles and pulled muscles to serious concussions, torn ligaments and tendons, and shattered bones. Fortunately, for the past several years, teams and leagues have made conscious efforts to decrease the number of player concussions. During the 2013 year, the NFL reported that the league saw a drop in concussions by 13 percent.

During the preseason and regular season in 2013, a total of 228 players got concussed. In 2012, by comparison, 261 players suffered concussions. Helmet to helmet contact, responsible for 53 percent of concussions in 2012, was responsible for less than half of concussions in the 2013 season. The NFL believes this improvement stems from a number of rule changes enacted to protect players from injury. Striking another player with the helmet can now be penalized, and intentionally striking another player in the head with the helmet, known as targeting, can result in an ejection from the game, The stiffer penalties and changes in culture – along with a growing understanding of the dangers of concussions – have led to positive adjustments that will hopefully continue.

Another potential method of protecting players from concussions has also appeared on the scene: head impact sensors. These devices can be used inside the helmet (and inside the mouth guard) to measure the force from a blow to the head. Developers hope the sensors can contribute to more sensitive safety engineering.

What Patients Need to Know about Electronic Medical Records

The proliferation of electronic medical records has, in many ways, benefited the health care industry. In theory, these sophisticated systems provide a centralized location for medical professionals to access and update patient information, instantaneously making data available to all of the patient’s providers. These systems can lower costs and reduce opportunities for error.

But are these systems safe?

Truth be told, the advent of new records systems has challenged many health care facilities and led to devastating complications, such as:

  • Decreased efficiency. As professionals attempt to learn complex new medical records programs, they can lose valuable time with their patients. Red tape can slow down critical patient care processes.
  • Medication errors. Typos and other similar discrepancies can cause deadly mistakes in the types and amounts of medications dispensed to patients.
  • Incompatibilities. Facilities that use different types of electronic medical records can have compatibility issues when sending patient information back and forth with partner hospitals and doctors officers.
  • Fraudulent billing. Computers generate an increasing number of medical bills; providers can more easily add confusing line items on purpose that increase insurance payments.
  • Downtime. When electronic records systems crash, health care facilities must scramble to use alternate databases – or paper records – until they come back online. The time spent reconciling these two methods can be considerable.

Clearly, electronic medical records systems can benefit patients, doctors and hospitals. But we cannot ignore the possible adverse effects of these systems. Health care facilities and providers must work together to improve their functionality, reliability, and compatibility to keep patients safe.

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