This is an exciting time in the technology and medical industry. Unfortunately, that leaves most of us constantly busy trying to keep up with all the new technological advances out there. The medical practitioners also are playing catch up with new technologies. Medical practitioners need to make sure a new technology is reliable before that technology can be used on their patients. Once a technology is tested and accepted by medical practitioners, the courts begin to play catch up with medicine’s acceptance of that new technology. That leaves the courts always a couple steps behind. This is especially true when the court faces expert testimony of traumatic brain injuries in conjunction with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). As anticipated with any innovative diagnostic examination, DTI has come under attack by defense courtroom physicians and defense attorneys. The civil defense attorneys are scared that the court’s acceptance of DTI will force them to pay out for brain injuries that they were able to sweep under the rug in the past.
What is DTI?
Researchers use DTI to look at the brains of various subjects, taking advantage of the fact that a diffusion tensor image reveals more information about the wiring of the brain than other types of scans. This is the biggest advantage of DTI: the ability to reveal more information about the brain than other types of scans. By looking at the network of connections at the core of the brain, a research can identify areas of difference between subjects, potentially using this data to explain psychiatric problems, degenerative diseases, and other medical topics of interest. Since DTI gives us an enhanced understanding of the types of damages that a brain injury victim sustained, we will have a healthier opportunity to treat and compensate these victims.
Challenges to DTI
DTI has come under attack by defendant attorneys working with insurance companies. “Diffusion tensor imaging is a useful diagnostic tool in research and it is evident from group analysis that DTI can identify Traumatic Brain Injury-associated changes in the brain across a range of injury severity, from mild to severe DTI. The argument, however, is this finding is based primarily upon group analyses and there is not conclusive evidence to date that DTI can be used for a diagnosis … at the individual patient level. This argument ignores a large quantity of peer-reviewed scientific literature supporting the clinical use of DTI and ignores that DTI is being used at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to detect and treat wounded service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.” Bruce H. Stern, DIFFUSION TENSOR IMAGING Objective Proof of Traumatic Brain Injury, New Jersey Lawyer, the Mag. 11, 12.
Florida Courts Uphold the Use of Diffusion Tensor Imaging
A Hillsborough County, Florida trial court denied a defendant’s Frye challenge regarding the admissibility of MRI with DTI. Hammer v. Sentinel Ins. Co., Case No. 08-019984 (13th Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County, FL, September 27, 2010).
The Hillsborough trial court stated the DTI is “neither new nor novel science and that plaintiff had demonstrated that the basis underlying principles of DTI had been sufficiently tested and accepted by the relevant scientific and medical communities.
Plaintiff presented the expert testimony of David Herbst, M.D., a Board Certified radiologist, who testified that DTI studies are definitely accepted by practicing radiologists and are depended upon by physicians who order them to assist in diagnosing and treating traumatic brain injuries. The court also buttressed its findings with the position of the American College of Radiology, which defined practice guidelines and technical standards for radiologic practice on the performance and interpretation of Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the brain, which clearly provides that indications for MRI of the brain with diffusion imaging, if available, is helpful in many indications, including, but not limited to, acute and chronic neurologic deficits, headache, mental status change suspicious of non-accident trauma and post-traumatic conditions, among others.” 1 Stern and Brown, Litigating Brain Injuries § 6:12.40.
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The acceptance of DTI is obviously good news for victims of brain injuries. At times, traditional testing did not properly measure the full extent of the loss of function someone experienced in a brain injury accident. Since the old way of testing, might have not measured all damages that the brain could have experienced, many TBI victims were left uncompensated for a good portion of their damages. Hopefully, the continuing acceptance of DTI will help more traumatic brain injuries victims get the compensation and treatment that might have not been available to them in the past.
The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is exceptionally experienced helping victims of traumatic brain injuries get compensated. For more information on brain injuries and diffusion tensor imaging, please contact the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA at (727) 451-6900. The lawyers at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are skilled traumatic brain injury lawyers who are often called upon by their colleagues to co-counsel brain injury cases throughout the State of Florida.
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Clearwater, FL 33765