Tampa General Hospital First U.S. Emergency Department Using Rapid Blood Test for Traumatic Brain Injury, Concussion

Tampa General Hospital First U.S. Emergency Department Using Rapid Blood Test for Traumatic Brain Injury, Concussion

Tampa General Hospital’s emergency department are the first in the nation to use an FDA-cleared rapid blood test to successfully evaluate patients 18 and older with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), including concussions. Results are available in approximately 15 minutes.

A plasma sample is inserted into the portable device to conduct a test. Then the test can quickly provide important information that can help providers determine care and treatment plans. In addition, this streamlined process could rule out the need for a CT scan.

A rapid blood test for evaluating concussions can be a real game-changer,” says Dr. Jason Wilson, associate professor, Department of Internal Medicine, in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and director of the Emergency Department Clinical Decision Unit, Tampa General . “It provides definitive data as we work to confirm a concussion or a traumatic brain injury.’’

Neurological and cognitive exams have been the primary method of diagnosing a concussion. Typically, CT scans are used to identify a more serious injury, such as a brain bleed. The i-STAT TBI Plasma test uses plasma from a patient’s blood sample to look for markers associated with brain injury to rule out the need for a CT scan.

The test can improve efficiencies in emergency departments, reduce wait times and improve the overall quality of patient care.

“Patients can spend less time in the emergency department and will walk away with lab results that can help their doctors make treatment decisions for a full and successful recovery,” Wilson says.

Recently published research also demonstrated that the proteins this test measures may help clinicians predict recovery for someone with a more severe injury.

Here’s how the test works:

  • This test measures specific proteins present in the blood after a traumatic brain injury, including concussion.
  • A “not elevated” result can be used to rule out the need for a head CT scan.
  • For those whose test shows elevated levels, the next step is often a CT scan, and clinicians could leverage both results to evaluate whether someone has a TBI.
  • The test can free up resources in the emergency department, reducing costs and enhancing a hospital’s value-based care. For patients, it can reduce exposure to radiation from unnecessary CT scans and lessen wait times in the emergency room.

“Tampa General is the first emergency department to use this test method and make it available for patient use,” says Michele Moran, senior nursing director in the Tampa General Emergency Department. “This test gives us another tool to evaluate potential TBI patients properly. During the patient’s risk assessment and physical examination, we will determine who can most benefit from the blood test versus the CT scan.”