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Thousands of veterans' brain injuries may have been misdiagnosed

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been at the center of some very troubling stories over the past few years. Of course, everyone remembers the findings about long wait times for health care and falsified records at some of the VA medical facilities.

Now, thousands of veterans have been told that their tests for traumatic brain injury between 2007 and 2015 were not evaluated by the appropriate doctors. Physicians in one of four specialties, including neurology and neurosurgery, are required to do the evaluations and make the TBI diagnosis, according to VA policy. However, numerous VA medical facilities across the nation failed to implement that policy. The evaluations were done by other types of doctors and sometimes by other medical professionals.

At least 40 facilities across 25 states did not properly evaluate TBI tests. Some of these men and women were diagnosed with TBI. However, the severity of their condition may not have been properly determined. For those who weren't diagnosed with a TBI, but actually have one, the VA says it will pay benefits retroactively.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald said that the VA is "taking every step necessary to grant equitable relief to those affected to ensure they receive the full benefits to which they are entitled." Over 25,000 impacted vets have been identified and are being contacted so that they can be retested and evaluated. "We let these veterans down," said the secretary.

There's no telling at this point how many veterans' lives have been changed by an improper diagnosis. Prompt and accurate diagnosis of any brain injury can be essential to getting the proper treatment and to helping those who have suffered such an injury return to as normal a life as possible. Those who believe that they or a loved one may have suffered a brain injury, whether through a car accident, playing sports or because of a fall or some other trauma to the brain should be evaluated immediately.

Source: WSPA 7 News, "Thousands of Veterans to get new TBI evaluations," Brianna Smith, July 18, 2016

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