Undiagnosed Fracture Claims
A common cause for complaint following an attendance at an Accident and Emergency Department is failure to diagnose a fracture. This can lead to a bone beginning to heal in the wrong position and/or a person using an affected part of the body which should be kept immobile.
Failure to diagnose a fracture promptly can lead to additional pain, incorrect healing, the need for (and associated risks of) otherwise unnecessary surgery and longer term complications such as arthritis.
Management of a fracture following a delayed diagnosis often results in the required treatment being more extensive, invasive or complicated. Inevitably, recovery periods are longer.
Why are fractures missed?
There are a number of reasons why fractures are missed. These include:
- an inexperienced doctor failing to request an x-ray;
- the fracture being difficult to see on the x-ray;
- an x-ray not being requested as a result of the description given of the accident and the patient’s presenting symptoms not being typical of a fracture;
- the fracture not being seen as the angle or view taken on the x-ray was wrong for the type of fracture;
- failing to pass the results of the x-ray to the treating doctor for further action.
“David Gazzard represented me when the hospital didn’t diagnose my scaphoid fracture. I now have permanent weakness and pain which is far worse in colder weather. David was extremely thorough and this certainly paid off as he was successful in recovering compensation for me despite the hospital refusing to accept responsibility all the way through.” TJ, April 2018
A very commonly missed fracture is a fracture to the scaphoid bone which is located in the wrist, very close to the base of the thumb. These fractures are usually the result of a fall onto an outstretched hand causing the hand and the wrist to be moved back forcibly. They are notoriously difficult to diagnose because the scaphoid bone is effectively inside the joint. There is often no externally visible injury and scaphoid fractures routinely do not result in swelling.
For these reasons, clinicians are trained specifically on the signs and symptoms to look for in scaphoid fractures and the type of x-ray views necessary in order to confirm them or rule them out. Despite that, diagnostic guidelines are often not followed and scaphoid fractures are missed. This can lead to serious problems including reduced grip, reduced range of motion in the wrist, non-union or delayed union of the fracture, osteoarthritis and avascular necrosis which can lead to arthritis.
David Gazzard has over 25 years’ experience as a specialist medical negligence solicitor. During that time he has represented many people whose fractures have gone undiagnosed.
Among David’s recent successful claims was a hospital’s failure to detect a ‘Weber B’ fracture of his client’s ankle. As a result of being treated conservatively for far too long, surgery was required to stabilise the fracture.
“I can’t praise you enough. Not only did you fight so hard on my behalf but on a personal level you are so nice to deal with. Thank you so much for everything David.” EW, July, 2018
Should you wish to discuss any of these issues, our Head of Medical Negligence, David Gazzard, will be delighted to speak with you informally and in complete confidence. You may call him on 01793 615011 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org