A broken hand is something you would think would be easy to spot, especially if you have attended a hospital or your GP’s surgery to have it examined. In normal circumstances, when the medical attention you receive meets the standard expected of all medical professionals, hand fractures should be spotted and diagnosed correctly so that you can receive the proper treatment. However, in some cases, a hand fracture could be missed as a result of orthopaedic negligence. If you have suffered from a missed fractured hand as a result of a doctor or a hospital failing to carry out their duties properly, then you could be entitled to make a medical negligence claim and seek compensation if you suffer avoidable harm, as a result.
Medical Negligence Assist is specialists in helping people to make medical negligence compensation claims. We can offer you advice and put you in touch with a personal injury lawyer who could help you win your case. Hopefully, it will leave you feeling more informed and more confident about your chances of making a successful compensation claim. If you want to have further information and advice beyond what you see in this guide, you can call one of our team members on 0800 652 3087; you can also call this number or fill in our contact form to discuss making a medical negligence claim.
Choose A Section
- A Guide To Claiming Compensation For A Missed Hand Fracture
- What Is A Misdiagnosis Of A Fractured Bone?
- Causes Of Failures To Diagnose A Fracture
- Causes Of Hand Fractures
- Symptoms Of A Broken Or Fractured Hand
- Diagnosis & Treatment For Broken Or Fractured Hands
- When Could You Claim Compensation For A Misdiagnosis?
- Hand Fractures Missed By A Doctor Or GP
- Hand Fractures Missed By A Hospital
- What Are Your Basic Rights As A Patient?
- Time Limits To Make A Medical Negligence Claim
- Missed Hand Fracture Compensation Calculator
- No Win No Fee Missed Hand Fracture Compensation Claims
- Talk To Our Team
- Supporting Resources
Most people probably aren’t overly familiar with their rights as a patient and with how the process of making a medical negligence claim works. We have put this article together to explain the basic key points of how and when a fractured hand could be missed by doctors as a result of medical negligence, and how and when such cases of negligence could entitle the victim to seek compensation.
Importantly this guide will also go over some of the details of how a medical negligence claim would work if you were to make one, such as how long after a case of medical negligence occurred could you make a claim, how your compensation will be calculated and how you could be able to easily afford the legal fees of making a personal injury claim by a no win no fee agreement with your solicitor. Throughout this article, you will also find links to other pages and resources that are relevant and useful for helping you learn more about making personal injury claims for medical negligence. For example, you can see here our general guide to making personal injury claims for clinical misdiagnoses.
The type of misdiagnosis we are talking about in this guide is a missed hand fracture. This is what can happen if a doctor fails to spot a fracture or fails to recognise the full extent of the fracture. It is expected of medical professionals to be able to diagnose a patient’s injury or illness correctly and accurately or failing that to refer the patient to the appropriate exams, scans and tests.
If you were to be seen by a doctor, who provided a negligent assessment and sent you home, and you subsequently learned that you did have a hand fracture then that could be classed as a negligent diagnosis. It would be classed as negligent if the doctor was found to have performed their duties inadequately and in a manner below the standards expected of them or without following the correct procedure.
Failure to correctly diagnose a fractured hand could cause you to suffer a good deal of avoidable harm. Fractured bones that aren’t spotted and dealt with could worsen and suffer further damage, heal incorrectly leading to permanent disability or deformation and cause a large amount of physical pain.
There are a number of different types of failures and oversights that could cause a broken or fractured bone to go unnoticed or get misdiagnosed.
- Doctors failing to refer a patient to receive an X, CT scan or MRI scan.
- Failure to spot the signs of a fracture on the results of a scan
- Failure to pass on the results of a scan correctly.
- Failure to check for signs of a fracture due to focusing on other injuries the patient has suffered.
Hand fractures are cases of the bones in a person’s hands being broken. Bone fractures can occur when they suffer impacts or strain of sufficient force. These can be caused by falls, by having your hand caught and crushed in something or by twisting the hand. It can be common for people to suffer fractures in their hands through sports injuries, especially in contact sports. For instance, one of the most common forms of hand fractures is breaking the fifth metacarpal, the bone which connects the little finger to the palm. This is commonly referred to as a “boxers fracture” as it can often be caused by the heavy striking impacts on the fists during boxing matches.
There are a number of symptoms which can indicate that you have suffered a bone fracture in your hands. They include:
- Swollen hands
- Bruising on the hands
- Inability to move your fingers
- Fingers appearing shorter than normal
- Fingers appearing out of place, for example crossing over with other fingers when attempting to form a fist
- A knuckle appearing sunken in, this is often a sign of a broken metacarpal or “boxers fist” as mentioned in the previous section.
- Numbness in the fingers
When you see a doctor with a possible broken hand, or after suffering an injury to your hand, the doctor will perform an examination on your hand. They will ask questions and look for any of the symptoms of a broken hand, as mentioned in the previous section. Often this fairly simple examination will confirm the presence of a fracture in your hand. Usually, you will then be sent off for an x-ray to confirm the exact location and extent of the fracture. X-rays can produce a fairly clear image of the state of the bone and allows doctors to know exactly what they are dealing with.
In many cases, your doctor could treat your fractured hand without having to resort to performing surgery. Sometimes broken bones can be manually moved back into the correct position by the doctor, pushing them around with their fingers. Once the bones are back in place, it may still take them a number of weeks to heal properly. In the meantime, you may be given a brace, a splint or a cast to hold your hand in place to allow the bones to heal uninterruptedly. You will be given regular X-Rays every 1-2 weeks for a number of weeks to monitor the progress of your bones recovery. You can probably expect to have to wear your cast or splint for a period of 3-6 weeks.
In cases where the condition of the bones are more severe, then surgery may be required in order to put them back in place and ensure they stay there. In one of these surgical procedures, surgeons will open up the hand in order to reposition the bones into their correct position. Pins, wires or plates may then be used to fix the bones in place until they have begun to heal. After the surgery, you will quite likely be given a cast or a brace to hold your hands still to assist the bones in healing. In some cases, you will undergo further surgery afterwards to have the pins, wires or plates used to hold the bones together removed.
There are certain grounds on which you could claim compensation for a misdiagnosis of a hand fracture. There has to be proof of two things. Firstly that the cause of your hand fracture being missed or misdiagnosed was orthopaedic negligence and not some other factor. That means there needs to be confirmation that the doctor or the hospital who examined and treated you was negligent and that the misdiagnosis wasn’t caused by you giving them an inaccurate description of your symptoms for example.
The second thing that also needs to be proven is that you have suffered some kind of avoidable harm as a result of the negligence. A fracture which healed by itself without any adverse effects beyond what could be expected had it been diagnosed and treated correctly would not likely give you grounds to make a personal injury claim. Some proof that you suffered preventable harm as a result of the misdiagnosis would be required to make a personal injury claim. Having a fracture be misdiagnosed can lead to issues such as deformity as a result of the bones not setting and healing properly, further damage and degeneration of the bones in the injured hand and a considerable degree of pain in some cases.
If these two conditions are met, that the doctor or hospital treating you were negligent and this led to a worse injury, then you could have grounds to make a compensation claim. If you are unsure, you can call our medical negligence claims team to discuss your situation with them and receive clarification about your right to claim.
If you have suffered an injury that didn’t seem severe enough for you to immediately call an ambulance or go to the hospital, then the first medical professional to examine your hand will probably be your GP. They can be responsible for your misdiagnosis if they fail to refer you to an X-ray to confirm the nature and extent of the fracture.
To learn more about how to bring about a medical negligence claim against a GP, you can read our guide to doing so here.
You might go straight to the hospital immediately after suffering a hand fracture, especially if it is obvious that you have been badly hurt and you need to go to A&E. Otherwise, you might end up in hospital in order to receive an X-ray. There are a number of things that can go wrong in a hospital that can cause a misdiagnosis of a hand fracture.
- If you suffered a number of different injuries at once and were sent to A&E, then your hand fracture could be missed as doctors focus on your other injuries. While it may be necessary to prioritise a life-threatening injury over a fractured hand, it would still be classed as medical negligence if any injury was overlooked.
- If you undergo an X-ray, then the X-ray could be carried out incorrectly, resulting in a failure to spot the fracture.
- The results of an X-ray could end up being reported incorrectly or not passed on to the proper doctors due to an admin failure.
To learn more about how to bring a claim against a hospital for negligence, you can read our guide here.
You are entitled to a certain level of quality in the medical care you receive. You are entitled to not face avoidable harm as a result of a misdiagnosis that occurred because of mistakes or misconduct on the part of the doctors treating you. This is because doctors and all other practitioners of medicine have a duty of care. This duty of care is an expectation that they will not allow any preventable harm to come to their patients as a result of their actions or inaction. The level of experience a practitioner has or the degree of stress they may be under are not considerations in this expectation.
That means that if a doctor fails to provide adequate medical care and you suffer avoidable harm, as a result, you could be entitled to make a personal injury claim.
You also have specific rights when it comes to your GP. For example, you have the right to register with a GP whose catchment area you reside in. You have a right to receive attention in their surgery provided they do not have reasonable grounds to decline to treat you, such as if you have behaved in an abusive way towards them or have engaged in discriminatory or harassing behaviour towards them or their staff for example. Importantly you are entitled to request a second opinion from another doctor, although your GP may have the right to decline this if they reasonably believe that it is not necessary. To learn more about your rights as a GP’s patient, read this page here.
There is a personal injury claims time limit for claiming compensation for medical negligence. The time limit is three years from the discovery of the harm caused by the misdiagnosis. Again if you are unsure about where your circumstances lie in regards to the personal injury claims time limit you can call one of our team members.
This personal injuries claims calculator is a useful tool; it shows how much certain types of injuries that could be associated with a hand fracture are valued under the Judicial College Guidelines. This does not represent exact figures as your compensation would vary depending on the specific health problems that you have suffered as a result of the misdiagnosis.
|Loss of both hands||Effective loss of both hands||£132,040 to £189,110|
|Serious damage to both hands||Such injuries will have given rise to permanent cosmetic disability and significant loss of function.||£52,310 to £79,360|
|Total or effective loss of one hand||Injuries where the hand or significant part of the hand has been either severed or has been so badly damaged as to require amputation. Compensation can vary depending on whether the hand was the dominant one.||£90,250 to £102,890|
|Amputation of middle, index, or ring fingers.||Injuries like this will leave the hand weak and less functional.||£58,100 to £85,170|
|Serious hand injuries||Injuries where the hand has been reduced in capacity by roughly 50%. For example if some fingers have been lost and then re-attached leaving the hand claw like and clumsy.||£27,220 to £58,100|
|Severe fractures to fingers.||These can lead to partial amputations, deformities, loss of sensation and loss of function.||Up to £34,480|
|Less serious hand injury||Crush injuries which lead to deformity and loss of function without or inspite of surgery.||£13,570 to £27,220|
|Moderate hand injury||Crushing injuries, penetration injuries or soft tissue injuries. Compensation depends on whether surgery has an effect on the existence of lasting effects.||£5,260 to £12,460|
|Total/partial loss of index finger.||Loss or severe damage to index finger||£11,420 to £17,590|
|Fracture to index finger||Fractures that impair long term strength, sensation or risk of developing arthritis.||£8,550 to £11,480|
As well as the extent of the injury itself, other specific factors will be included in deciding how much compensation you might be entitled to. You can claim for special damages as a part of your compensation. Special damages are the sum of the financial losses you have had to deal with because of money you have missed out on or have been forced to spend as a result of the misdiagnosis. Make sure that you keep all the paperwork relating to money you should have received or money you have spent due to your misdiagnosis. Things like wage slips, receipts, invoices, and so on. Losses and expenses you could be entitled to claim compensation for include:
- Loss of wages due to time taken off work
- Travelling costs
- Medical treatment costs
- Costs of pre-arranged plans which you could not pursue due to the misdiagnosis.
Please contact us if there is anything which you are unsure you are eligible to claim for.
You may already be convinced that you wish to seek compensation for having a misdiagnosed hand fracture, but are unsure about whether or not you will be able to do so due to the potentially prohibitive costs of hiring a solicitor, or worse yet, the prospect of making a personal injury claim only to receive no compensation leaving you with debts and legal bills with nothing to show for it.
A solicitor from our panel could make a no win no fee agreement with you as you begin your claim. Under the terms of the agreement, your solicitor would be entitled to receive a part of your compensation in return for their services if you are successful and receive a payout, but they would not be entitled to receive a payment if the claim fails and you don’t receive a payout. The amount of compensation you share with your solicitor is negotiable between the two of you, and there is an upper limit of 25% to which a solicitor can be entitled.
Getting in touch to ask to start a claim or to ask questions about how personal injury claims work is simple and easy, just call 0800 652 3087 or fill out our online enquiry form to reach a member of our team.
Written by Jack
Edited by LisM.