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Traumatic brain injury: 10 things you need to know to save lives

  1. Be on the lookout for blood thinners.

Patients taking blood thinners, including Coumadin and Plavix, are at risk of severe bleeding into the brain from relatively minor head injuries. Learn what medications these are, and factor the patient’s medication list into your assessment. Signs and symptoms of intracranial bleeding may be delayed, especially in elderly people.

Assume that an altered mental status is a change from baseline unless proven otherwise, and perform a cranial nerve exam to detect subtle signs of closed head injury. Any patient taking a blood thinner who bumps their head should be evaluated at the hospital, no matter how minor their injury appears.

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