Ohio residents with some degree of brain injury may be interested to learn that experts are warning against overdiagnosis of mild traumatic brain injury. Overdiagnosis in general is a problem with many different diseases. While it would seem intuitive that diagnosing a disease as early as possible is the most desirable outcome, early diagnosis is not always to the patient’s advantage.
One issue is with the concept of disease itself. Experts point out that there is no bright line between diseased and not diseased, and therefore, it can be difficult to pinpoint when the benefits of diagnosing and treating a disease outweigh the disadvantages. In the case of mTBI, it can sometimes be diagnosed through neuroimaging. However, doing so in the absence of clinical symptoms means that a person might be stigmatized or make decisions regarding the diagnosis that have significant personal cost to them. For example, an athlete might decide not to pursue a career when the risk of developing a more serious condition or symptoms is very low.
Another danger with overdiagnosis of mTBI is that finding evidence of the injury through neuroimaging could lead to other conditions being misattributed to mTBI. For example, a person may primarily have a psychiatric problem that is incorrectly attributed to mTBI.
While it is difficult to grasp that a person may have a disease or condition that is not actually serious enough to warrant medical treatment, overdiagnosis can be as serious a problem as misdiagnosis. For example, an individual might undergo further risky and expensive testing such as biopsies or exploratory surgery for a condition that is inconsequential. An individual who feels that they may have experienced medical malpractice as the result of an overdiagnosis, a failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis may wish to consult an attorney regarding their rights.