Fracture Misdiagnosis Claims *
Fracture misdiagnosis claims * are generally made following errors made by doctors and radiologists and they have failed to identify the injury and it is usually classed as a medical negligence claim *. Following a misdiagnosis, the fractured bone can deteriorate even further and can lead to other complications such as infections or osteoarthrosis. The most commonly missed fractures that are misdiagnosed include hairline fractures, scaphoid fractures and hidden bone fractures.
When making a fracture misdiagnosis claim * the medical practitioner that was responsible for the misdiagnosis may only be held liable in cases where the misdiagnosis lead to a deterioration of your injury which could have been avoided had the injury been correctly diagnosed to begin with.
In cases where a misdiagnosis is given and shortly afterwards this diagnosis is corrected and there had been no deterioration of your condition then you may not be entitled to pursue a claim – the reason being that there was been no further injury to claim for.
If you have suffered an avoidable injury as a result of misdiagnosis and are pursuing a medical negligence claim *, be aware that medical negligence claims are treated differently to other personal injury claims * and speaking with a solicitor is an important step in your journey.
Commonly misdiagnosed Fractures
Scaphoid Fractures (Wrist Fracture)
Often misdiagnosed as a sprain, a scaphoid fracture is a wrist fracture and generally occurs when a person slips, trips or fall with their arms outstretched and their fall is broken by their hands. This can cause a fracture of the scaphoid bone, a small bone located below the thumb. This bone has its own blood supply and a fracture of this bone may disrupt the blood supply, which may lead to further complications if not treated early. Complications may include, swelling, numbness and possible problems grasping objects with the affected hand. Treatment of this type of fracture may entail multiple x-rays (as it may take some time to appear), motion exercises and in some cases surgery may be required to set it back into position.
Talus fractures (Foot Fracture)
Often misdiagnosed as a sprain the talus is the ankle joint that connects the lower leg bones to the heel of your foot. Falls from heights whereby a person lands on their feet, car accidents or horse riding accidents * are common causes of this type of fracture. X-ray is an important step in diagnosis of this injury and following this treatment includes casting and keeping weight off the foot for a period of time. If the bone is misaligned then surgery may be needed to reset it.
Stress Fractures (also known as Hairline Fractures)
Stress fractures can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms a person feels are somewhat vague in that they feel general discomfort in the general area around the bones. These fractures may be sometime associated with repetitive strain or overuse injuries * as they come on slowly over time. They occur when a muscle is stressed or over-trained and can no longer absorb the repeated shock and stress it once would have before. When this happens the muscle then transfers the shock to the bone and over time this can cause a fracture. Where stress fractures happen in the legs or feet, they can be misdiagnosed as tendinitis, shin splints or muscle strain. Treatment for these fractures is usually rest, but if undiagnosed or misdiagnosed it can lead to problems.
Causes of a missed fracture diagnosis *
Misdiagnosis generally occurs when a medical professional fails to identify symptoms of a fracture and as a result, this injury may be overlooked. This can happen for many reasons depending on the circumstances in which you sustained your injury. Situations where medical negligence may be the cause of the misdiagnosis have been:
Failing to investigate symptoms
When a doctor fails to investigate symptoms associated with a fracture the injury can become worse over time. Failing to do so is a form of negligence as it is their duty to ensure that their patients receive a high standard of care. Failing to act on these symptoms can create further issues and the fractured bone can become weaker, causing the injury to become more severe. Common symptoms associated with a fracture include;
- Reduced mobility
- Weak pulse below the fracture
Failure to treat the injury / Inadequate treatment of a fracture
Failing to treat the injury and symptoms in a timely manner can lead to the fracture healing incorrectly, for example in the wrong position. This can cause great pain for the injured individual.
A delay in diagnosis can also lead to treatment becoming more complicated. This can also create long-term problems down the line, which may have been avoidable such as reduced mobility or developing a condition such as osteoarthritis.
They may incorrectly diagnose a fracture as a sprain or strain which means that the incorrect treatment is given. This can cause the fracture to worsen over time and can prolong the recovery process in many cases.
An inexperienced medical practitioner may not have the necessary knowledge to diagnose a fracture correctly. They may fail to request certain treatment that is required, such as an x-ray. This can lead to the fracture being misdiagnosed and the injury may be overlooked.
Misinterpretation of x-ray and test results
This is a common type of negligence associated with the missed diagnosis of a fracture. Misinterpreting results can mean that the injury may not be diagnosed until a later stage. Incorrectly reading test results can lead to many other issues arising as the wrong injury or condition may be treated instead.
Healthcare staff negligence
Medical negligence * proven in cases where staff failed to carry out their role and provide the expected duty of care to the patient, for example:
- The X-ray was not passed on to the appropriate team for further examination.
- X-ray was taken from the wrong angle and the fracture is not visible.
- The doctor is given another person’s X-ray as a result of hospital staff error.
Making a claim *
When making a claim for medical negligence speaking with a solicitor may be your first step and they will be able to help you establish whether you have a stateable claim. Once established there are a number of steps involved:
- Your medical records will be obtained to show the x-rays taken and any medical reports written by the treating doctors
- An independent medical expert will be called upon to assess your case to help determine whether any further injuries you sustained as a result of clinical negligence could have been avoided.
- If proven that the medical professional that treated you was responsible for any further injury and acted in a negligent manner, your solicitor will bring your case to a close for you and talk you through legal proceedings to settlement.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CASE
If you would like more information on any aspect of this topic or the claims process involved, you can contact our misdiagnosis solicitors * on 01 649 9900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential discussion.
With over 30 years’ experience, Tracey Solicitors ensure not to overwhelm you with legal jargon and can provide you with legal advice and guidance with your best interest at heart, in a language that you can understand.