What Bob Saget's death teaches us about traumatic head and brain injuries

The tragic and unexpected death of actor and comedian Bob Saget left many people wondering what happened. The autopsy report was recently released, concluding that his death was accidental, likely from head trauma.

Although there were no witnesses to what happened, some medical experts have speculated that Bob probably hit his head, didn’t think anything was wrong, and then passed away in his sleep.

Causes of head trauma and injuries

Sometimes head injuries occur during a car wreck or motor vehicle collision. Other times people hit the back of their head on a stationary object. Still others experience head trauma playing sports or in a fall.

As a tall person, I’ve whacked my head more than once on a raised SUV hatch. Fortunately, I’ve never had a serious injury from it.

We once represented a client, though, who worked in construction and hit the back of his head on a low-hanging chandelier. It caused a slow bleed and eventually a stroke.

Symptoms of a head injury

Regardless of how a head injury happens, medical experts recommend being attentive to symptoms afterwards.

• If there’s a sudden onset of severe symptoms, experts recommend heading to the emergency room (ER) at once.

I’ve had multiple clients describe their sudden headaches as the worst of their life. That should get your attention, as well as the immediate attention of every doctor, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or registered nurse who sees you.

• Don’t go to sleep in the immediate period after hitting your head.

• Consider getting checked out by a doctor or going to the ER if you experience symptoms including headaches, an alteration in vision, difficulty concentrating, nausea or vomiting, or a brief loss of consciousness. If the symptoms persist and seem to get worse, experts recommend urgently seeking medical attention.

Although anyone can have a brain injury or bleeding after a head injury, some people have a higher risk:

• Seniors

• People on blood thinners (including aspirin) or anti-platelet medications.

Head trauma negligence

Here at Painter Law Firm, we have handled lots of medical malpractice cases involving an in adequate workup of head trauma patients. In other words, patients did the right thing by seeking hospital, emergency room, or medical care, but had their symptoms ignored and were discharged with bogus diagnoses. If they had received proper diagnosis and treatment, it would’ve prevented permanent neurologic injuries.

One client slipped and fell on ice and hit her head. The emergency medical service (EMS) technicians who brought her to the hospital by ambulance reported her fall and hospital ER staff even documented that she had a laceration or cut on her head where she fell. Incredibly, she was discharged without a proper workup with spinal cord injury in her neck (cervical spine).

On other occasions, I’ve seen cases where patients were young or there were other circumstances that distracted the health care team.

Some physicians and providers have an unchecked cognitive bias that causes them to downplay symptoms of patients in their teens, 20s, or 30s—meaning they don’t consider all possible explanations in the differential diagnosis because they are less likely to occur in young people. That violates the standard of care and is negligent.

So, too, is the cognitive bias that can happen with some doctors and providers who jump on the first diagnosis that they think of, rather than doing the hard work of considering and working up every potential diagnosis that explains the patient’s and symptoms.

If you seek medical care after a head trauma, be your own advocate. Ask the physician or provider what testing or evaluation they did to rule out traumatic brain injury, hemorrhaging, or spinal cord injury.

If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor hospital or medical care in Texas, then contact a top-rated experienced Texas medical malpractice lawyer for a free consultation about your potential case.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.