Missed fractures at the emergency department could cause all sorts of problems, from poorly knitted bones to patients having to undergo further surgeries to correct the poor healing of such fractures. In some cases, missed fractures in the emergency department could lead to a poorer prognosis, as the window of opportunity to treat that fracture properly may have passed. This guide takes a look at how this type of misdiagnosis could lead to you launching a medical negligence claim for compensation for the suffering and pain of your missed fracture. The sections below cover how a missed fracture could affect you, what the most frequently missed fractures are, and how to go about getting assistance with making a claim for compensation for a missed fracture. If you would like clarification of anything mentioned within the sections below or you’re ready to begin a claim, we’d be happy to advise you. You can reach us on 0800 652 3087. Otherwise, why not take a look at the information provided below. It could help with your claim.
Choose A Section
- What Is A Missed Fracture In The Emergency Department?
- What Are The Different Types Of Bone Fracture?
- Signs And Symptoms You Have A Fractured Bone
- Diagnosing A Fracture In The Emergency Department
- How An Emergency Department Should Treat A Fracture
- Complications Resulting From Missed Fractures
- Why Do Missed Fractures Happen In Emergency Departments?
- Statistics – Missed Fractures In The Emergency Department
- How Long Do I Have To Make A Claim Against An Emergency Department?
- Missed Fracture In The Emergency Department – Compensation Calculator
- No Win No Fee Claims For Missed Fractures In The Emergency Department
- How Medical Negligence Assist Could Help You
- Contact Medical Negligence Assist
- Supporting Resources
If you present at an emergency department with a suspected broken bone, you could assume that if a doctor tells you that there is no broken bone, then you do not need further treatment. However, if you continue to experience pain and the injury does not resolve, it could be that you have experienced a missed fracture in the emergency department, and this may have caused you to miss the optimal window of opportunity for treatment. This could lead to the injury not healing as it should do, and it could cause problems that require further treatment that you may not have needed if the injury had been diagnosed. Negligent misdiagnosis of fractures at the emergency department could be classed as medical negligence, and if you have suffered avoidable harm from a missed calcaneus fracture, a missed scaphoid fracture, or any other type of missed fracture, you may be able to claim compensation for this form of medical malpractice.
The sections below cover information about broken bones and the complications caused by missed fractures. We take you through potential compensation amounts and describe how a medical negligence solicitor could help you to get the compensation you deserve.
Bone fractures could take different forms. Here, we break down some of the different types of fracture you could suffer.
- Open fracture – where there is a wound that is open. Sometimes you may be able to. see the fractured bone.
- Closed fractures – where the skin is not broken.
- Displaced fractures – where the bone is not in its natural position.
- Non-displaced fractures – where the bone is in its natural position.
- Transverse fractures – when the break is across the bone.
- Spiral fractures – a break that twists around a bone.
- Oblique fractures – a break that angles across a bone.
- Greenstick fractures – breaks on one side of a bone.
- Impacted fractures – these are when the bone pieces drive into each other.
- Comminuted fractures – where the bone is shattered into more than two pieces.
- Stress fractures – small cracks in the bone.
Whether you have suffered a missed stress fracture, a missed displaced clavicle fracture or any other missed fracture, you may suffer consequences of not getting the right treatment straight away. If you suffer avoidable harm due to clinical negligence, you may be eligible for compensation.
Depending on the bone you have broken, you may experience some of the following symptoms:
However, it may not always be easy to tell whether you have broken a bone or whether you have suffered a different kind of injury. If you have experienced the below, it could indicate that you have broken a bone:
- A grinding or snapping noise upon injury
- Bruising or swelling around the affected area
- Pain upon putting pressure on the area, such as when weight-bearing, touching or moving the affected area
- A deformity in the area – sometimes, you may see part of the bone through an open wound
If you feel that you may have broken a bone, then it would be a good idea to seek medical attention as quickly as possible so that you do not miss the optimal window of opportunity for treatment.
If you present at the emergency department with a suspected fracture, you could expect the doctors to ask about your symptoms, and then examine you. They would likely check for swelling, displacement and other common signs of a fracture. If they suspect you have a fracture, they may send you for diagnostic imaging tests, such as X-rays.
Once these are back, the doctor should then review the X-rays to see if they can see signs you have broken a bone. They may need to ask for further tests, such as a CT or MRI scan.
There are various ways in which to treat a fracture. In essence, you would likely require treatment to help you to manage the pain, as well as assistance with keeping the fractured pieces of bones in the right position for healing.
This may be done in a variety of ways. Some bones could be held in place with splints and casts, such as arms and legs, while broken fingers may be strapped to the next one to keep them straight while they heal.
Fractures to parts of the body that may not be able to be put in a cast could be trickier to keep in position. You may be advised to rest and perform physiotherapy exercises for these types of injuries, such as rib fractures, or you may be required to stay in the hospital, wear a cage, or have surgery to fix the break, depending on what bone/s you have broken and how badly you have broken them.
The types of surgery you may need for a broken bone would largely depend on the type and position of the break. If, for example, you had broken your hip, it may be that a hip replacement is required, whereas if you had badly broken your arm, for example, you may have surgical pins and plates put into your arm.
Getting a correct diagnosis is paramount to you being prescribed the most appropriate treatment for your injury.
There are a variety of outcomes for patients who have experienced missed fractures. Here, we look at complications that could result from some missed fractures.
A missed arm fracture – If you have experienced a missed arm fracture, then the bones could knit together incorrectly. This may mean you lose some of the function in your arm. Treatment for such types of missed fractures could include re-breaking the bones under anaesthetic to have them repositioned. Outcomes could vary in such cases, but regardless of whether a full recovery was eventually made, you may be able to claim compensation for any avoidable harm you had suffered if medical negligence is proven.
A missed foot fracture – A missed fracture to the foot or a missed ankle fracture could compromise your ability to walk, play sports and more. Again, you may have to undergo more invasive treatment than you would have if a fracture to the foot was diagnosed correctly.
A missed spine fracture – A spinal fracture could be considered quite a serious injury. You could, in severe cases, be left unable to walk if the fracture is missed.
There could be a variety of reasons that a fracture could be missed in an emergency department. As many of us have read, some hospital departments are under pressure to see, assess and treat patients within a certain time. Because of this, doctors and other staff working in accident and emergency departments are under pressure. With so many patients to see and treat in short periods of time, mistakes could happen, but if you are harmed due to clinical negligence in the emergency department you may be able to claim compensation for the avoidable harm that you have suffered.
Some reasons that a fracture might have been missed in an emergency department could include:
- You have not been sent for diagnostic tests when it would have been appropriate for you to have such tests resulting in a missed fracture.
- Your radiographic images were mixed up with someone else’s
- Your doctor did not look at the images.
- Your doctor misinterpreted the radiographic images of your injury.
- You were misdiagnosed with a strain or sprain.
If you have suffered avoidable harm as a result of clinical negligence in the emergency department, you could take action against the hospital for their negligence. We have included more information about how to go about this near the end of this guide.
According to a report in the British Medical Journal, which explored diagnostic errors in a busy accident and emergency over the course of 4 years, 79.7% of diagnostic errors reported were missed fractures. In the accident and emergency study, the most common reasons for this were radiography interpretation errors (77.8%), followed by a failure to perform radiography tests (13.4%).
There was no mention on which fractures were the most frequently missed fractures in the emergency department for adults.
When looking to make claims for missed fractures in the emergency department, not only would you have to prove that medical malpractice caused you to suffer harm, you would also have to claim within the personal injury claims time limit that applies to your case.
The usual time limit for claiming for clinical negligence would be 3 years. But the date the period of limitation could begin would depend on the date that you discovered you had suffered avoidable harm due to negligence. Limitation periods could begin:
On the date of discovery – If you suffered harm from missed fractures at the emergency department but the damage was not spotted until days or weeks later, the three-year period for claiming would begin on the date that you discovered you had suffered avoidable harm due to negligence.
On the date of the negligent incident – If it was clear that harm had been caused by negligence right away, your limitation period would begin on the day the negligent incident took place.
There are some exceptions to the three-year period, so if you are unsure as to whether you have enough time to make a claim before the limitation period ends, please do not hesitate to get in touch so that we could clarify this for you.
To work out how much compensation you could claim you would need to visit an independent medic for an assessment so that a medical report could be written, detailing your condition and your prognosis. This is something that you would have to do for any medical negligence claim. A personal injury claims calculator would not be able to offer you an exact figure of compensation that you would receive, and neither would a claims advisor. The only way a claim could be valued would be by assessing a report from an independent medical expert.
However, to give you some idea of how much you could claim, we’ve pulled together some information taken from the Judicial College Guidelines, which gives approximate payout brackets for specific injuries. We hope you find this useful.
|Injuries||Compensation Bracket||Further Notes|
|Ankle Injuries - Moderate||£12,900 to £24,950||Fractures could be included here. The higher-level payments in this bracket could include injuries where recovery was incomplete, or where some mobility was compromised.|
|Severe foot injuries||£39,390 to £65,710||Fractured heels (both) continuing pain and restriction of mobility would be present for injuries in this bracket.|
|Moderate foot injuries||£12,900 to £23,460||Injuries that could include metatarsal fractures - continuing symptoms could be present.|
|Serious toe injuries||£9,010 to £12,900||A combination of fractures of 2 or more toes and injuries to the big toe could be included here.|
|Le Fort Fracture||£13,970 to £22,470||Fractures to the frontal bones of the face - permanent deformities would lead to injuries being included in this bracket.|
|Fractures to the cheekbones||£9,570 to £14,810||Lasting effects post-surgery, such as paraesthesia.|
|Fracture of the clavicle||£4,830 to £11,490||The extent of the displacement and the severity of the fracture would denote how much compensation could be awarded. Long term effects would also be assessed.|
|Acetabulum fractures||£36,770 to £49,270||Degenerative changes could result from this type of injury, which could include instability. Hip replacement may be required in the future.|
|Forearm fracture||£6,190 to £18,020||Simple fractures|
If you cannot see the missed fracture injury you’ve suffered here, then please do not hesitate to contact the Medical Negligence Assist team. We could give you an approximation over the phone.
You could make claims for missed fractures at the emergency department without paying for the services of a medical negligence solicitor upfront. A solicitor working to No Win No Fee payment structure would require you to sign a Conditional Fee Agreement, which would promise them a success fee (a percentage of your missed fracture compensation settlement) in the event that they achieved such a settlement. The percentage a solicitor could take would not be more than 25%. If the lawyer was not able to achieve a compensation settlement for a valid claim, then this success fee would not have to be paid.
Some people may choose to make claims in this manner as they do not want to pay upfront for the services of a medical negligence solicitor, and some believe that this presents less financial risk to them. If you’d like to get more advice on making claims in this manner, then we’d be happy to discuss this with you and answer any questions you might have.
If you’ve experienced harm because of missed fractures in the emergency department, you may not know where to turn to get the advice and support you may need to make a claim for compensation. At Medical Negligence Assist, we could answer many of your questions about your missed fracture claim, as well as helping to connect you with a medical negligence lawyer who could take your claim forward for you. Our specially trained advisors could assess your case to see if you could be eligible to make a medical negligence claim, and better still, we could give you this advice without you having to pay for it. That’s right. All the advice we offer to you is free, and you are under no obligation to make use of our services by asking us for advice. We’re here to help.
We know that missed fractures could cause a lot of stress, as well as causing you pain and suffering. We’ve made it easy to get in contact with us to get advice and support you can count on. Simply call the team at Medical Negligence Assist on 0800 652 3087 if you’d like to speak to a specially-trained advisor, or use our contact form or live chat feature to let us know how we could help you.
Broken Arm Or Wrist – Here, you can see the NHS’s information on a broken arm and wrist injuries.
How Can I Tell If A Bone Is Broken – Here, you can read about how to tell if you’ve broken a bone.
Assessment And Management Of Fractures – This link takes you to the NICE Guidelines for the assessment and management of fracture injuries.
Misdiagnosed? – Here, you can find our handy guide to making a misdiagnosis claim if you have suffered harm from a misdiagnosis.
Hospital Negligence – You can read our advice on what to do if you have experienced negligent hospital treatment here.
Claiming Against The NHS? – This page covers important information about claiming against the NHS for medical negligence.
Written by Jo
Edited by LisM.