A recent article in an insurance industry publication looked at traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and the factors that make the biggest differences in improving the long-term outcome for patients suffering from these injuries.

Long-term thinking saves money and quality of life

With a focus on job-related injuries, the article emphasizes flexibility and excellence over all else. It warns against short-term thinking and the penny pinching that often causes higher long-term financial costs for the insurance company and lower quality of life for the patient.

“There is no set time for brain injury recovery; it varies with every situation. The absolute best care for the injured worker is what matters most,” according to the article.

Continuum of care and good communication

According to the Claims Journal article, a TBI requires a “continuum of care approach.” TBIs can be among the most complex injuries medical and insurance professionals ever face. They are not like legs with a simple fracture, where something close to a “set it and forget it” approach is all that is necessary.

The article emphasizes the role of the nurse case manager, who facilitates communication and cooperation among the family, providers and payers. This role is essential for the patient’s long-term prospects, the article reminds insurers.

Getting the patient an excellent evaluation

Employers or coaches on the scene of a head injury may have trouble knowing when to call for help. The article suggests a rule of thumb that any loss of consciousness means calling first responders. Those responders will find it “essential to obtain as much background information immediately on the site” as possible.

Because proper evaluation is essential and TBIs can take unexpected guises, “severe injuries should be routed to the nearest trauma center or hospital for transfer to a [level one trauma center].” Once the patient reaches the facility, CT scans are the “dominant means of diagnostic scans.”

Working closely with the family

The Claims Journal article argues that the family will be essential to the best possible outcome for the patient.

However, the author warns that families will sometimes “want to have rehab located close to their home.” If possible, they should be encouraged to think in terms of the best quality care possible, “and sometimes this means even going to another state for rehab.”