Veterans not evaluated properly for traumatic brain injuries

In this FILE photo a look at a Veterans Clinic in the United States.

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - Thousands of veterans across our country were not properly evaluated for traumatic brain injuries at VA hospitals. That's the finding of a national review of T-B-I exams.

This review conducted by the VA found about 24 thousand veteran TBI exams were not performed by the appropriate specialists between 2007 and 2015.

We found over 400 of those are veterans in Ohio.

According to VA policy, a neurologist, neurosurgeon, psychiatrist or a physical medicine and rehab doctor must be the ones to diagnose a traumatic brain injury for a veteran at VA hospitals.

The review found that wasn't always happening. Nurse practitioners and other unqualified doctors were found to be conducting those exams for some veterans.

The problem with that is TBI is a condition that can be easily missed and very dangerous if not treated.

"Some of these injuries are life threatening, other injuries that are more mild to moderate if they are missed can result in long-standing emotional, behavioral, and psychological problems. People can have difficulties with agitation, depression, mood swings, sleep disturbances, they can lose their jobs they can lose their families," said Dr. Mike Pedoto, Physical Medicine and Rehab Specialist at Miami Valley Hospital.

The VA is taking action now to correct their mistake.

2 NEWS Investigates obtained a letter that was sent to all 428 Ohio veterans that didn't get the proper examination. It has special instructions on how to reprocess a TBI claim.

If you believe you or a loved one was not properly examined and did not get a letter, the VA says you should contact them. Contact the VA at 1-800-827-1000.

According to a VA spokesperson, the reason exams were not conducted by a designated specialist had nothing to do with staffing. They say "In 2007, medicine around TBI was, and continues to be, a rapidly evolving science. VA selected these specialists as they have the most experience with the symptoms and effects of TBI. The problem was that VA issued a series of guidance documents that may have caused confusion as to what the policy was and how it was to be implemented."

They go on to say, "to minimize the burden and ensure no financial harm to affected Veterans, the VA Secretary granted equitable relief to all identified Veterans in May." The relief offers new TBI exams, conducted by a designated specialist, to all identified Veterans.

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