Undiagnosed Bone Fractures
An undiagnosed or misdiagnosed fracture is one of the most commonly missed injuries in A&E in England and Wales. Missed fractures can be a result of an X-ray not being taken or read correctly by medical professionals and can cause serious issues for patients.
Surveys have shown that junior doctors and doctors in training missed 35% of significant X-ray abnormalities. A separate study showed that 953 diagnostic errors were noted across 934 patients, and 79.7% were missed fractures.
What Happens With A Misdiagnosed Fracture?
When you have a misdiagnosed fracture or missed fracture, the outcome can be very serious. Bones can fail to heal correctly without proper treatment, and result in a large number of issues further down the line.
Complex surgery is sometimes needed to fix missed fractures such as a missed ankle fracture. Most patients who suffer from misdiagnosis of fracture experience prolonged pain and restricted movement. This can lead to long-term problems, limited functionality and even disability in severe cases.
You may have suffered medical negligence if:
- You’ve had a fracture misdiagnosed by a medical professional
- You have a missed fracture that wasn’t noticed by a medical professional
- You were not referred to an orthopaedic specialist for your fracture
- You have had to have further surgery on a bone that has healed incorrectly because of misdiagnosis of fracture
- You had an X-ray read incorrectly by a medical professional.
What are the symptoms of a missed fracture?
When you are suffering from a missed fracture or a misdiagnosed fracture, the main symptom you will experience is severe pain. The pain could cause you to feel nauseous or lightheaded and may get more intense when you move the injured area. Other symptoms you may experience with a missed fracture include:
- Weak pulse below the fracture
Why Does Misdiagnosis Of Fracture Occur?
Fractures are a highly common injury, with roughly 536,000 people suffering from a new fracture every year. A doctor should identify a fracture by examining the injured area and taking an X-ray. If the X-ray is not administered thoroughly or adequately checked, then this can lead to a missed fracture. The most common reasons for a missed fracture include:
- No X-ray taken: In some cases, a GP or medical professionals may not get an X-ray of the injury, which means if there is a fracture, it will go undetected.
- Symptoms not common with fractures: It is possible for misdiagnosis of fracture to occur if the symptoms presented and the description of the accident does not suggest to the doctor that a fracture has happened.
- X-ray taken incorrectly: It is essential for X rays to be taken at the correct angle in order for a fracture to be detected. A missed fracture can happen if the doctor can’t see it in the X-ray.
- Fracture hard to see: Some fractures can be easily missed on an X-ray as they can often appear as small, faint lines. A missed fracture can be the result of the doctor not examining the X-ray thoroughly enough.
- X-ray not examined by a doctor: In some hospitals, the staff administering the X-ray may not pass the results onto a doctor to check, which can result in a misdiagnosed fracture.
- No further investigation: A missed fracture on an X-ray could be picked up by a further investigation from a CT scan or MRI scan. If a doctor decides a further investigation isn’t necessary, it can lead to a fracture misdiagnosed.
- Inexperienced doctors: An inexperienced junior doctor is much more likely to miss a fracture, and junior doctors are often the ones to see minor injury A&E patients.
What Are The Commonly Missed Fractures?
Certain types of fractures are more likely to be missed or misdiagnosed than others. The most commonly missed fractures include:
- Hairline fractures: A hairline fracture is where a bone is broken but not misaligned. They will appear as a fine line on an X-ray which can be easy to overlook and leads to a missed fracture.
- A hidden bone: A hidden bone is common with fractures to the small bone in the wrist known as the scaphoid bone.
- Hip fractures: A fracture to the hip is one of the most commonly missed fractures. A study shows that over 40% of vertebral fractures in the hip go undiagnosed by doctors.
- Ankle and foot fractures: It is common for a missed ankle fracture to occur because of the number of small bones in the foot and ankle. Foot and ankle fractures are some of the most common fractures to occur, particularly in those aged around 50 to 60 years.
How Can Negligence Claimline Help?
Here at Negligence Claimline, our experienced and friendly team are on hand to help you get the support you need if you have suffered from a missed fracture. We work closely with a panel of specialist solicitors for medical negligence, who can assist you with your potential claim against NHS.
Sometimes an apology is enough when medical negligence has occurred, but in other cases missed fracture compensation could be the only solution to help you get your life back on track. We can put you in contact with one of our NHS negligence solicitors who can help you with a no win no fee medical negligence claim. You are under no obligation to take the advice the solicitor gives to you, or to progress your claim any further if you don’t want to.
Can I Sue The NHS?
The NHS aims to provide a good standard of healthcare to all, and it is one of the country’s proudest achievements. However, it is possible that things go wrong when in NHS care, and if something does go wrong during your treatment, you deserve an explanation and compensation where necessary.
Here at Negligence Claimline we do not treat your missed fracture claim lightly and are here to help you reach the conclusion you want. It is possible to sue a doctor or sue the NHS, but your treatment must be considered unreasonable, irresponsible and harmful.
When someone suffers a medical injury that impacts their life or that of a loved one, it is vital that the NHS has correct procedures in place to learn from their mistakes and compensate the patient where necessary.