Complications Following Hospital Admission After Traumatic Brain Injury

In the United States, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death and injury in individuals younger than 45 years old. Beyond treatment for the initial injury, many TBI patients experience further complications that can put them at a heightened risk and may increase their length of stay (LOS) in hospice care.

A recent study in Canada sought to identify specific factors that may increase a person’s risk of mortality and morbidity after TBI. Using hospital records from multiple locations, researchers reviewed almost 13,000 adult TBI cases, collecting data about injury severity, subsequent complications (both neurological and non-neurological), LOS, and mortality. They found that:

  • Of the included cases, 3.2% of patients experienced neurological complications and 22.6% experienced non-neurological complications (including hospital-acquired pneumonia and delirium).
  • Neurological complications after TBI were more likely to occur in patients who had received blood transfusions, underwent neurosurgery, and who had more severe injury.
  • Those who experienced neurological complications had a mortality rate 85% higher than those who didn’t, while those who experienced non-neurological complications had a 53% higher mortality rate.
  • Both neurological and non-neurological complications were associated with longer LOS – up to twice as long as those who experienced no complications in hospice care.

More than one in five people who experience TBI develop a subsequent complication during their hospital stay, and these complications are often associated with longer LOS and higher mortality. Early intervention, improved preventative strategies, and targeted treatment plans can decrease the rate at which TBI patients experience complications in the recovery period.

Omar M, Moore L, Lauzier F, et al. Complications following hospital admission for traumatic brain injury: A multicenter cohort study. Journal of Critical Care. (2017).

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