Study objective: Emergency physicians are often the initial-and only-clinical providers for patients who have sustained a mild traumatic brain injury. This prospective observational study seeks to examine the practice patterns of clinicians in an academic Level I trauma center as they relate to the evaluation of patients who were presumed to be at high risk for mild traumatic brain injury. Specifically, we describe the frequency of a documented mild traumatic brain injury evaluation, diagnosis, and discharge education.
Methods: This pilot study took place in a single academic Level I trauma and emergency care center during a 4-week period. Patients were identified by triage nurses, who determined whether they responded affirmatively to 2 questions that indicated a potential risk for mild traumatic brain injury. Data were abstracted from emergency department clinician documentation on identified patients to describe the frequency of a documented mild traumatic brain injury evaluation (history and physical examination), diagnosis, and discharge education among those who were identified to be at risk for a mild traumatic brain injury.
Results: Ninety-eight subjects were included in the present study. Documentation of a mild traumatic brain injury evaluation was present for less than 50% of patients, a final diagnosis of mild traumatic brain injury was included for 36 (37%; 95% confidence interval 27.8% to 46.7%), and discharge education was provided to 15 (15%; 95% confidence interval 9.2% to 21.4%). Of the 36 patients who received a documented mild traumatic brain injury diagnosis, 15 (41.5%; 95% confidence interval 26.7% to 57.9%) received mild traumatic brain injury-specific discharge education.
Conclusion: This study suggests that the majority of patients at high risk for mild traumatic brain injury have no documentation of an evaluation for one. Also, patients with a mild traumatic brain injury diagnosis were unlikely to receive appropriate discharge education about it. Education and standardization are needed to ensure that patients at risk for mild traumatic brain injury receive appropriate evaluation and care.
Copyright © 2019 American College of Emergency Physicians. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.