Concussion diagnoses among adults presenting to three Canadian emergency departments: Missed opportunities


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Abstract

Objectives:Patients with concussion commonly present to the emergency department (ED) for assessment. Misdiagnosis of concussion has been documented in children and likely impacts treatment and discharge instructions. This study aimed to examine diagnosis of concussion in a general adult population.Methods:Patients >17 years old presenting meeting the World Health Organization's definition of concussion were recruited in one academic (Hospital 1) and two community (Hospitals 2 and 3) EDs in a Canadian city. A physician questionnaire and patient interviews documented recommendations given by emergency physicians. Bi-variable comparisons are reported using chi-square tests, t-tests or Mann-Whitney tests, as appropriate. Multivariate analyses were performed using logistic regression methods.Results:Overall, the study enrolled 250 patients. The median age was 35 (IQR: 23 to 49) and 52% were female. A variety of concussion causes were documented. Forty-one (16%) patients were not diagnosed with a concussion despite meeting criteria. Concussion diagnosis was less likely with a longer ED length of stay (OR = 0.71; 95% CI: 0.60 to 0.83), presenting to the non-academic centers (Hospital 2: OR = 0.21, 95% CI: 0.08 to 0.58; Hospital 3: OR = 0.07, 95% CI: 0.02 to 0.24), or involvement in a motor vehicle collision (OR = 0.11; 95% CI: 0.03 to 0.46).Conclusion:One in six patients with concussion signs and symptoms were misdiagnosed in the ED. Misdiagnosis was related to injury mechanism, length of stay, and enrolment site. Closer examination of institutional factors is needed to identify effective strategies to promote accurate diagnosis of concussion.

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