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Failure to Diagnose a Fracture Compensation Claims

Failure to diagnose fractures can cause patients unnecessary pain or even permanent disability.

A photo of Mrs Swaffield

I am very happy and satisfied with the settlement you achieved for me and the service was excellent and thank you very much

Mrs E.Swaffield
Loughborough

Making a claim for fracture misdiagnosis

Fractures, or broken bones, are a common medical issue. Most patients suffering from a fracture in the UK receive an excellent level of care, with a quick diagnosis and treatment delivery. However, some of those affected are misdiagnosed when they visit their GP or A&E, resulting in vital treatment being postponed.

Often, factors such as insufficient access to a patient’s scans or inadequate interpretation of x-rays are to blame for undiagnosed or misdiagnosed fractures. The circumstances surrounding the injury can also cause issues. For instance, if an older person suffers a spinal fracture during a fall at home, their symptoms might be misinterpreted as evidence of a stroke or other head injury, which would prevent them from receiving proper treatment.

An undiagnosed fracture doesn’t only prolong the pain experienced but can also lead to complications being more likely and progressing further. While rare, delay in fracture diagnosis complications can be severe and lead to life-changing effects and, in some case, can lead to amputations or even be fatal. If you’ve been affected by medical negligence when you had broken a bone it’s right that you should be able to hold those at fault to account. The legal system can provide you with a route to not only get the answers that you deserve but receive financial compensation too.

If you’re interested in taking your fracture misdiagnosis claim further, we’re here to offer you the support and guidance you need. We have experience investigating medical negligence cases and representing those affected, including when cases have gone to court. We work on the behalf of all our clients to ensure the best outcome possible in each of their cases.

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Our medical negligence team has years of experience working on a wide variety of misdiagnosis cases so we understand just how difficult a decision it can be to bring a fracture misdiagnosis case.

Fracture misdiagnosis claims team

That’s why we are committed to guiding you through every step of the process. We ensure that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by our specialist solicitors, while working alongside medical experts, to guarantee the best results for you.

Our medical misdiagnosis team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated, high-value cases.

If you would like us to advise you as to whether you can pursue a fracture misdiagnosis claim, please call our freephone number or submit your details via the online form and we will contact you to schedule a free initial phone consultation at a time that suits you. If you decide that you want to proceed with a claim, one of our medical malpractice lawyers will be able to tell you whether you can enter into a No Win, No Fee agreement, meaning that in the event that your claim is unsuccessful, and you have co-operated fully with us throughout, you won’t have to pay any legal costs so there’s no financial risk to you.

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The effects of medical negligence can be devastating for the individual and their families, so securing appropriate compensation for them as quickly as possible is our top priority.

Laura Morgan

Director of Medical Negligence

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“I found the staff to be friendly, helpful, courteous and they kept me well informed on a regular basis”

Mrs. Vora,
Loughborough

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“They acted in a sympathetic and professional manner and resolved my case very efficiently”

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Leeds

  For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today 0151 550 5228

10 simple steps to claim

Step
1
Obtaining your medical records
Step
2
Providing your statement of what happened
Step
3
Minimising your loss
Step
4
Establishing that a breach of duty occurred
Step
5
Estabilishing the effect of the breach of duty
Step
86
Preparing your case for CourtCalculating the value of your claim
Step
7
Proving your loss
Step
68
Calculating the value of your claimPreparing your case for Court
Step
9
Attending the trial in Court
Step
10
Awarding your compensation claim

Your questions... answered

What is a fracture?

A fracture is a break in the bone. Fractures can occur to any of the 200 bones in the body but breaks are more likely to occur to the collarbone, arm, wrist, hip, or ankle. It’s possible to partially fracture a bone or completely break one and they’re most likely to occur in children and elderly people, as their bones tend to be weaker.

There are different types of fractures, including:

  • Complete fracture– This is where the bones snaps completely into two or more pieces.
  • Incomplete fracture– Where the bone breaks but not all the way through.
  • Open or compound fracture– This is where the bone breaks through the skin, resulting in a wound. The bone may be visible through the wound or it may recede.
  • Simple fracture– A simple fracture is when a break occurs but doesn’t pierce the skin.
  • Comminuted fracture– This is where the force has caused the bone to fracture into several fragmented pieces, it’s most common in high-impact accidents.
  • Greenstick fracture– This is a type of fracture that most commonly occurs in children. It’s a type of incomplete fracture where the bone bends because the bone it’s still soft.
Read less

Can I claim for a fracture misdiagnosis?

If a delayed diagnosis of a fracture has caused you undue suffering or resulted in complications occurring, you may be able to make a successful failure to diagnose claim.

Failure to diagnose a fracture can have serious consequences but you must be able to show that those responsible for your care missed an opportunity to accurately diagnose you. Fracture misdiagnosis claims are all different and, as a result, how this is demonstrated can vary.

You may show:

  • A missed or negligent diagnosis  - below a standard of appropriate care that should have been provided.
  • Incorrect treatment after diagnosis - including ineffective treatments to initially treat a fracture when more active methods are required.
  • Errors in joint reconstruction –  due to the many different types of fractures, which can affect the type of treatment best suited to the fracture suffered and appropriate in each individual case. The severity and location of a fracture can also affect the way in which the fracture is fixed.

There are TWO main types of compensation  that you can claim for an undiagnosed fracture:

  • General damages - for the pain and suffering incurred.
  • Special damages - to compensate for any financial losses, e.g., if you have had to miss work or your quality of life, has been seriously affected by the missed diagnosis.

Compensation cases of misdiagnosis of fractures must also show that you suffered as a result of the delay in treatment. This could range from the additional pain you experienced to long-term complications that are a result of treatment not being delivered quick enough.

Read less

How much compensation will I get?

Fracture misdiagnosis compensation takes your personal experiences into account when deciding on the financial amount given. For this reason, it’s impossible to say how much your misdiagnosed fracture lawsuit could be worth without first speaking to you.

When you choose to work with Your Legal Friend, we’ll take the time to listen to you. Backed by years of experience, our fracture misdiagnosis lawyers will use their skills to give your case a value.

Financial compensation is split into two areas – general damages and special damages – and we’ll consider both. Special damages reflect the pain and suffering that has been caused, for instance, your claim’s value will rise if you experienced misdiagnosed fracture complications. Special damages could include areas such as recouping lost earnings after not being able to work, travel expenses, and medical costs, or other areas where you have been left out of pocket due to the negligence.

Fracture misdiagnosis compensation claims combine both general and special damages. If you want to learn how much your case could be worth, you can speak to a fracture misdiagnosis lawyer at Your Legal Friend to start the process of taking a claim forward.

Read less

How long do I have to make a claim?

All medical negligence claims must be made within a three-year timeframe. This time limit starts from the point that your first realised you had been let down by those responsible for your care.

If you do not claim within the set time period, your claim will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ and will unfortunately not be taken further. There are two exceptions to this rule, in the case of children and if the negligence directly led to a fatality. In these cases suing the NHS for negligence is still possible as the date on which time begins to run is the date of the child’s 18th birthday, and in the case of fatalities, from the date of death.

In some cases, it can be some time before you realise that mistakes have been made, especially if you have been misdiagnosed multiple times. We’ll help you understand exactly how long you have to act by listening to your experience and pinpointing the ‘date of knowledge’.

You have up to three years to make a claim but we advise our clients to take action as soon as they are able. We know that taking on a medical negligence claim after suffering from a misdiagnosed fracture is likely to be the last thing on your mind. But when you instruct us, you won’t have to worry. Our expert team will handle the case on your behalf, working with you to ensure the best outcome possible.

The reason we advise that you take action sooner rather than later is that is can help your case. We’ll use evidence to support your case, demonstrating the effect medical negligence has had. This will include a witness statement given by you. The more details you can include, the better we’re able to build your case. Most patients find that this is easier to do when they undertake the task sooner.

Read less

Can I make a claim on a no win, no fee basis?

Whatever the nature of your fracture claim, we always seek the maximum level of compensation for our clients – and if your case is unsuccessful, we don’t charge you any fees. This is our guarantee for all standard fracture claims.

With our no win, no fee guarantee, you pay nothing, unless you win your compensation claim. At that point, you will only pay your insurance premium, if applicable, and the success fee, which will never be more than 25% of the amount you win.

What is a scaphoid fracture?

Fractures to the scaphoid often occur as a result of a fall on to an outstretched hand, where the impact of the fall forces the hand and wrist back.

Difficulties in detecting scaphoid fractures have been widely reported as they are hard to diagnose because the bone is inside the joint. Misdiagnosis sometimes happens because of a lack of swelling and no visible injury.

A missed scaphoid fracture can lead to serious problems including:

  • Reduced grip and range of motion.
  • Failed or delayed fusing together.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Disruption of the blood flow causing the bone to die

MRI scanning for missed scaphoid fractures

Patients with a suspected scaphoid fracture and tenderness in the wrist area are recommended by medical guidelines to be given an MRI scan even if the X-ray comes back clear.

In more serious cases...

A serious fracture left undiagnosed can result in permanent disability because the bones re-grow in the wrong way, resulting in impaired movement or disability.

Other complications of a fracture, if left untreated, can include:

  • Compartment syndrome – a dangerous condition which can result in amputation if not dealt with as soon as possible
  • Fat Embolism – can also result in death if not diagnosed and treated promptly
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
  • Long-term tenderness and joint stiffness
  • Osteomyelitis – inflammation of bone and bone marrow, caused by infection.
Read less

What causes a fracture?

A fracture occurs when excessive force is applied to the bone, resulting in it breaking or shattering. This can happen from simply falling over to being involved in a serious accident. Bones are usually strong and will typically absorb pressure when force is applied, where the force exceeds the amount of pressure a bone can withstand, a fracture occurs.

Common ways bone breakages can occur include:

Some people are more susceptible to a fracture. For instance, those with osteoporosis, a disease that weakens the bone, are more likely to sustain a fracture, even when limited force is applied. Children are also more likely to break their bones, as they are still developing.

What are the symptoms of a fracture?

The most common symptom of a fracture is pain. Most people that suffer from a fracture experience pain in the bone and surrounding area. When the fracture occurs, you may be able to hear a popping or snapping sound.

Other symptoms of a fracture may include:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising 
  • Bleeding
  • Dislocation, deformity or twisted appearance.
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Weak pulse below the fracture

If you’ve experienced a compound fracture, where the bone breaks through the skin, you will also be left with an open wound, where the bone may protrude.

How is a fracture diagnosed and treated?

The most common way for a broken bone to be diagnosed is through an x-ray. This will give medical professionals an image to assess how severe the fracture is.

In most cases, where the fracture is only minor, treatment will make sure the bones are in the correct position and allow them to heal naturally, sometimes with the aid of a splint, brace, or cast. Where fractures are more severe, surgery may be needed to insert metal rods or plates that will hold the pieces of bone together.

How can a fracture be misdiagnosed?

In most cases, an x-ray will clearly show where a fracture has occurred. But that doesn’t mean that misdiagnosed fracture cases don’t happen.

While some fractures are easy to identify, others can be mistaken for a sprain and an x-ray may also not be conducted. If this has been the case it can lead to treatment being significantly delayed, potentially leading to long-term issues. Even if an x-ray is undertaken the results can occasionally be misinterpreted, especially if the fracture has occurred in small bones or an area that is difficult to see, such as the pelvis, wrist or hip, leading to fracture misdiagnosis cases.

In some cases, doctors would have been able to do little to treat the fracture. But in other circumstances delayed treatment can mean long-term pain and issues that can have an impact on areas such as mobility. If your fracture misdiagnosis has had an impact on your mobility, or another area of your life, you may be able to make a successful fracture misdiagnosis lawsuit against those to blame.

Read less

What are the complications of a misdiagnosed fracture?

Where a late fracture diagnosis has occurred, it’s possible for complications to develop. The misdiagnosis of a fracture can not only mean that the recovery process is longer but can lead to other, long-term conditions developing that may also need further treatment.

Among the conditions that can develop after a wrong fracture diagnosis are:

  • Compartment syndrome– This is a painful condition when pressure within the muscles builds, which can decrease blood flow. If left untreated it can cause permeant tissue damage, resulting in numbness, paralysis, and, in rare cases, the need for amputation.
  • Fat embolism– Bone breakages can cause fat tissue from the bone marrow to enter your bloodstream. In most cases, this doesn’t result in any complications. However, where multiple bones or a large bone has broken it can lead to potentially life-threatening fat embolism.
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)DVT is a blood clot that develops within a deep vein in the body. A breakage can cause blood vessels to become damaged, increasing the risk of DVT.
  • Avascular necrosis– If a breakage interrupts the blood supply to a bone it can lead to avascular necrosis, the death of the bone. It can lead to the bone eventually collapsing.
  • Mal-union– This is where the bone heals in an abnormal position and is the result of a fracture not receiving treatment quick enough. It can cause difficulty with movement in the long-term.
  • Joint stiffness – If a fracture isn’t properly treated, it can lead to long-term complications, such as joint stiffness and tenderness around the affected area.
  • Osteomyelitis – Osteomyelitis is the inflammation of a bone or bone marrow, usually caused by an infection. A fracture exposes the deep tissue, allowing bacteria to enter.

While you may be able to make a claim for a doctor misdiagnosed fracture, if the symptoms of a complication were not recognised, you may also be able to make a claim for this. You should be able to rely on those responsible for you care to first accurately diagnose a fracture and then treat any complications that arise. If this hasn’t occurred, fracture misdiagnosis claims can help those that have been affected.

Read less

What conditions can a fracture be misdiagnosed as?

In many cases, a misdiagnosed fracture isn’t linked to another serious condition but the symptoms are instead dismissed as a minor bump or sprain. This is more likely to happen if you’ve experienced an incomplete fracture or a fracture in a part of the body that is difficult to assess, as the results of an x-ray will be less obvious.

A missed fracture diagnosis can lead to longer recovery periods, as patients may continue to use the area rather than resting, and in some circumstances, a wrong diagnosis fracture can lead to long-term complications. If you have experienced an A&E or GP misdiagnosis fracture that has affected how you recovered, you may be able to make a claim for compensation, reflecting the pain and suffering that the delay in vital treatment has caused.

How often is a fracture misdiagnosed?

There aren’t any official statistics showing the percentage of facture misdiagnosis in the UK. However, research in the British Medical Journal found that junior doctors miss around a third of abnormalities on x-rays, it’s findings led to some hospitals introducing a new process to ensure specialists review x-ray results. The findings highlight how it’s possible for a delay in fracture diagnosis to occur within hospitals.

Among the most common reasons for missing a fracture are misreading the results of tests or a failure to perform radiography.

Case studies of misdiagnosis of fracture include:

  • A patient suffering a fracture to the tip of the elbow being told there was no sign of a break at A&E despite an x-ray being conducted.
  • A hospital failing to spot fractures sustained by a disabled youngster. He later died as a result of trauma, the resulting surgical procedure, and natural causes.
  • A man’s broken back being undiagnosed, despite an x-ray being conducted.
  • A man that was seriously injured in a car crash living with a broken neck for five months after doctors wrongly gave him the all clear.
Read less

Why could a fracture have been diagnosed?

  • Symptoms not commonly seen with a fracture - your description of the accident and symptoms presented do not automatically suggest to the examining doctor that a fracture has occurred.
  • No X-ray was taken.
  • X-ray was incorrectly taken - your X-ray may not have been taken at the right angle to detect the fracture leading the doctor to believe a fracture has not occurred despite the symptoms.
  • Fracture hard to see on the X-ray -  up to nearly a third of fractures in the bones of the hip and pelvis can fail to be spotted by an X-ray.
  • X-ray results not passed on to the doctor.
  • No further investigation by a CT or MRI scan.
  • An inexperienced doctor - A&E patients are most likely to be seen by junior doctors working at evenings and weekends at one in five A&E departments.

How many fractures occur in the UK?

Fractures are a common medical issue in the UK, with around 1% of the population experiencing breaking a bone every year.

What are the statistics on fractures?

  • Around 50 per cent of the 20 million-plus visits to A&E involve having an X-ray, mostly to check for bone injury.
  • One in four NHS radiology departments took more than 30 days to assess 80,000 X-rays by a radiologist. (NHS survey, 2014)
  • An estimated 300,000 patients are waiting more than a month for their X-rays to be analysed. (Royal College of Radiologists, 2014)
  • Patients whose X-rays were checked by a specialist before they left A&E were three times less likely to have a missed fracture. (University of Bradford School of Health Studies, 2013)                                                                   
  • Junior doctors in A&E miss up to 39 per cent of ‘clinically significant abnormalities’ on X-rays. (Study, British Medical Journal

A fracture is a break in the bone. Fractures can occur to any of the 200 bones in the body but breaks are more likely to occur to the collarbone, arm, wrist, hip, or ankle. It’s possible to partially fracture a bone or completely break one and they’re most likely to occur in children and elderly people, as their bones tend to be weaker.

There are different types of fractures, including:

  • Complete fracture– This is where the bones snaps completely into two or more pieces.
  • Incomplete fracture– Where the bone breaks but not all the way through.
  • Open or compound fracture– This is where the bone breaks through the skin, resulting in a wound. The bone may be visible through the wound or it may recede.
  • Simple fracture– A simple fracture is when a break occurs but doesn’t pierce the skin.
  • Comminuted fracture– This is where the force has caused the bone to fracture into several fragmented pieces, it’s most common in high-impact accidents.
  • Greenstick fracture– This is a type of fracture that most commonly occurs in children. It’s a type of incomplete fracture where the bone bends because the bone it’s still soft.
Read less

If a delayed diagnosis of a fracture has caused you undue suffering or resulted in complications occurring, you may be able to make a successful failure to diagnose claim.

Failure to diagnose a fracture can have serious consequences but you must be able to show that those responsible for your care missed an opportunity to accurately diagnose you. Fracture misdiagnosis claims are all different and, as a result, how this is demonstrated can vary.

You may show:

  • A missed or negligent diagnosis  - below a standard of appropriate care that should have been provided.
  • Incorrect treatment after diagnosis - including ineffective treatments to initially treat a fracture when more active methods are required.
  • Errors in joint reconstruction –  due to the many different types of fractures, which can affect the type of treatment best suited to the fracture suffered and appropriate in each individual case. The severity and location of a fracture can also affect the way in which the fracture is fixed.

There are TWO main types of compensation  that you can claim for an undiagnosed fracture:

  • General damages - for the pain and suffering incurred.
  • Special damages - to compensate for any financial losses, e.g., if you have had to miss work or your quality of life, has been seriously affected by the missed diagnosis.

Compensation cases of misdiagnosis of fractures must also show that you suffered as a result of the delay in treatment. This could range from the additional pain you experienced to long-term complications that are a result of treatment not being delivered quick enough.

Read less

Fracture misdiagnosis compensation takes your personal experiences into account when deciding on the financial amount given. For this reason, it’s impossible to say how much your misdiagnosed fracture lawsuit could be worth without first speaking to you.

When you choose to work with Your Legal Friend, we’ll take the time to listen to you. Backed by years of experience, our fracture misdiagnosis lawyers will use their skills to give your case a value.

Financial compensation is split into two areas – general damages and special damages – and we’ll consider both. Special damages reflect the pain and suffering that has been caused, for instance, your claim’s value will rise if you experienced misdiagnosed fracture complications. Special damages could include areas such as recouping lost earnings after not being able to work, travel expenses, and medical costs, or other areas where you have been left out of pocket due to the negligence.

Fracture misdiagnosis compensation claims combine both general and special damages. If you want to learn how much your case could be worth, you can speak to a fracture misdiagnosis lawyer at Your Legal Friend to start the process of taking a claim forward.

Read less

All medical negligence claims must be made within a three-year timeframe. This time limit starts from the point that your first realised you had been let down by those responsible for your care.

If you do not claim within the set time period, your claim will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ and will unfortunately not be taken further. There are two exceptions to this rule, in the case of children and if the negligence directly led to a fatality. In these cases suing the NHS for negligence is still possible as the date on which time begins to run is the date of the child’s 18th birthday, and in the case of fatalities, from the date of death.

In some cases, it can be some time before you realise that mistakes have been made, especially if you have been misdiagnosed multiple times. We’ll help you understand exactly how long you have to act by listening to your experience and pinpointing the ‘date of knowledge’.

You have up to three years to make a claim but we advise our clients to take action as soon as they are able. We know that taking on a medical negligence claim after suffering from a misdiagnosed fracture is likely to be the last thing on your mind. But when you instruct us, you won’t have to worry. Our expert team will handle the case on your behalf, working with you to ensure the best outcome possible.

The reason we advise that you take action sooner rather than later is that is can help your case. We’ll use evidence to support your case, demonstrating the effect medical negligence has had. This will include a witness statement given by you. The more details you can include, the better we’re able to build your case. Most patients find that this is easier to do when they undertake the task sooner.

Read less

Whatever the nature of your fracture claim, we always seek the maximum level of compensation for our clients – and if your case is unsuccessful, we don’t charge you any fees. This is our guarantee for all standard fracture claims.

With our no win, no fee guarantee, you pay nothing, unless you win your compensation claim. At that point, you will only pay your insurance premium, if applicable, and the success fee, which will never be more than 25% of the amount you win.

Fractures to the scaphoid often occur as a result of a fall on to an outstretched hand, where the impact of the fall forces the hand and wrist back.

Difficulties in detecting scaphoid fractures have been widely reported as they are hard to diagnose because the bone is inside the joint. Misdiagnosis sometimes happens because of a lack of swelling and no visible injury.

A missed scaphoid fracture can lead to serious problems including:

  • Reduced grip and range of motion.
  • Failed or delayed fusing together.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Disruption of the blood flow causing the bone to die

MRI scanning for missed scaphoid fractures

Patients with a suspected scaphoid fracture and tenderness in the wrist area are recommended by medical guidelines to be given an MRI scan even if the X-ray comes back clear.

In more serious cases...

A serious fracture left undiagnosed can result in permanent disability because the bones re-grow in the wrong way, resulting in impaired movement or disability.

Other complications of a fracture, if left untreated, can include:

  • Compartment syndrome – a dangerous condition which can result in amputation if not dealt with as soon as possible
  • Fat Embolism – can also result in death if not diagnosed and treated promptly
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
  • Long-term tenderness and joint stiffness
  • Osteomyelitis – inflammation of bone and bone marrow, caused by infection.
Read less

A fracture occurs when excessive force is applied to the bone, resulting in it breaking or shattering. This can happen from simply falling over to being involved in a serious accident. Bones are usually strong and will typically absorb pressure when force is applied, where the force exceeds the amount of pressure a bone can withstand, a fracture occurs.

Common ways bone breakages can occur include:

Some people are more susceptible to a fracture. For instance, those with osteoporosis, a disease that weakens the bone, are more likely to sustain a fracture, even when limited force is applied. Children are also more likely to break their bones, as they are still developing.

The most common symptom of a fracture is pain. Most people that suffer from a fracture experience pain in the bone and surrounding area. When the fracture occurs, you may be able to hear a popping or snapping sound.

Other symptoms of a fracture may include:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising 
  • Bleeding
  • Dislocation, deformity or twisted appearance.
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Weak pulse below the fracture

If you’ve experienced a compound fracture, where the bone breaks through the skin, you will also be left with an open wound, where the bone may protrude.

The most common way for a broken bone to be diagnosed is through an x-ray. This will give medical professionals an image to assess how severe the fracture is.

In most cases, where the fracture is only minor, treatment will make sure the bones are in the correct position and allow them to heal naturally, sometimes with the aid of a splint, brace, or cast. Where fractures are more severe, surgery may be needed to insert metal rods or plates that will hold the pieces of bone together.

In most cases, an x-ray will clearly show where a fracture has occurred. But that doesn’t mean that misdiagnosed fracture cases don’t happen.

While some fractures are easy to identify, others can be mistaken for a sprain and an x-ray may also not be conducted. If this has been the case it can lead to treatment being significantly delayed, potentially leading to long-term issues. Even if an x-ray is undertaken the results can occasionally be misinterpreted, especially if the fracture has occurred in small bones or an area that is difficult to see, such as the pelvis, wrist or hip, leading to fracture misdiagnosis cases.

In some cases, doctors would have been able to do little to treat the fracture. But in other circumstances delayed treatment can mean long-term pain and issues that can have an impact on areas such as mobility. If your fracture misdiagnosis has had an impact on your mobility, or another area of your life, you may be able to make a successful fracture misdiagnosis lawsuit against those to blame.

Read less

Where a late fracture diagnosis has occurred, it’s possible for complications to develop. The misdiagnosis of a fracture can not only mean that the recovery process is longer but can lead to other, long-term conditions developing that may also need further treatment.

Among the conditions that can develop after a wrong fracture diagnosis are:

  • Compartment syndrome– This is a painful condition when pressure within the muscles builds, which can decrease blood flow. If left untreated it can cause permeant tissue damage, resulting in numbness, paralysis, and, in rare cases, the need for amputation.
  • Fat embolism– Bone breakages can cause fat tissue from the bone marrow to enter your bloodstream. In most cases, this doesn’t result in any complications. However, where multiple bones or a large bone has broken it can lead to potentially life-threatening fat embolism.
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)DVT is a blood clot that develops within a deep vein in the body. A breakage can cause blood vessels to become damaged, increasing the risk of DVT.
  • Avascular necrosis– If a breakage interrupts the blood supply to a bone it can lead to avascular necrosis, the death of the bone. It can lead to the bone eventually collapsing.
  • Mal-union– This is where the bone heals in an abnormal position and is the result of a fracture not receiving treatment quick enough. It can cause difficulty with movement in the long-term.
  • Joint stiffness – If a fracture isn’t properly treated, it can lead to long-term complications, such as joint stiffness and tenderness around the affected area.
  • Osteomyelitis – Osteomyelitis is the inflammation of a bone or bone marrow, usually caused by an infection. A fracture exposes the deep tissue, allowing bacteria to enter.

While you may be able to make a claim for a doctor misdiagnosed fracture, if the symptoms of a complication were not recognised, you may also be able to make a claim for this. You should be able to rely on those responsible for you care to first accurately diagnose a fracture and then treat any complications that arise. If this hasn’t occurred, fracture misdiagnosis claims can help those that have been affected.

Read less

In many cases, a misdiagnosed fracture isn’t linked to another serious condition but the symptoms are instead dismissed as a minor bump or sprain. This is more likely to happen if you’ve experienced an incomplete fracture or a fracture in a part of the body that is difficult to assess, as the results of an x-ray will be less obvious.

A missed fracture diagnosis can lead to longer recovery periods, as patients may continue to use the area rather than resting, and in some circumstances, a wrong diagnosis fracture can lead to long-term complications. If you have experienced an A&E or GP misdiagnosis fracture that has affected how you recovered, you may be able to make a claim for compensation, reflecting the pain and suffering that the delay in vital treatment has caused.

There aren’t any official statistics showing the percentage of facture misdiagnosis in the UK. However, research in the British Medical Journal found that junior doctors miss around a third of abnormalities on x-rays, it’s findings led to some hospitals introducing a new process to ensure specialists review x-ray results. The findings highlight how it’s possible for a delay in fracture diagnosis to occur within hospitals.

Among the most common reasons for missing a fracture are misreading the results of tests or a failure to perform radiography.

Case studies of misdiagnosis of fracture include:

  • A patient suffering a fracture to the tip of the elbow being told there was no sign of a break at A&E despite an x-ray being conducted.
  • A hospital failing to spot fractures sustained by a disabled youngster. He later died as a result of trauma, the resulting surgical procedure, and natural causes.
  • A man’s broken back being undiagnosed, despite an x-ray being conducted.
  • A man that was seriously injured in a car crash living with a broken neck for five months after doctors wrongly gave him the all clear.
Read less
  • Symptoms not commonly seen with a fracture - your description of the accident and symptoms presented do not automatically suggest to the examining doctor that a fracture has occurred.
  • No X-ray was taken.
  • X-ray was incorrectly taken - your X-ray may not have been taken at the right angle to detect the fracture leading the doctor to believe a fracture has not occurred despite the symptoms.
  • Fracture hard to see on the X-ray -  up to nearly a third of fractures in the bones of the hip and pelvis can fail to be spotted by an X-ray.
  • X-ray results not passed on to the doctor.
  • No further investigation by a CT or MRI scan.
  • An inexperienced doctor - A&E patients are most likely to be seen by junior doctors working at evenings and weekends at one in five A&E departments.

Fractures are a common medical issue in the UK, with around 1% of the population experiencing breaking a bone every year.

  • Around 50 per cent of the 20 million-plus visits to A&E involve having an X-ray, mostly to check for bone injury.
  • One in four NHS radiology departments took more than 30 days to assess 80,000 X-rays by a radiologist. (NHS survey, 2014)
  • An estimated 300,000 patients are waiting more than a month for their X-rays to be analysed. (Royal College of Radiologists, 2014)
  • Patients whose X-rays were checked by a specialist before they left A&E were three times less likely to have a missed fracture. (University of Bradford School of Health Studies, 2013)                                                                   
  • Junior doctors in A&E miss up to 39 per cent of ‘clinically significant abnormalities’ on X-rays. (Study, British Medical Journal