Having a knee fracture might be something you could spot, or at least suspect, on your own even if you have no medical qualifications. But of course to receive a proper diagnosis and the treatment you need to recover you would have to see a doctor. You might also be rushed to the hospital immediately if you have had an accident severe enough to break your knee.
You have the right to expect competent medical care and for your fractured knee to be correctly diagnosed. If your injury isn’t correctly diagnosed then there could be serious consequences for your health and recovery. Sometimes a failure to diagnose an injury can happen despite doctors doing the best they can, but in other cases, a misdiagnosis could occur due to medical negligence. Medical negligence is any instance in which a medical professional fails to provide their patient with effective or safe medical care due to mistakes or incompetence.
If you suffer health problems as a result of medical negligence, such as a missed knee fracture, you could be entitled to make a personal injury claim for compensation. Medical Negligence Assist are specialists in helping people to claim and win compensation when they have been affected by medical negligence. We have written this guide to show you how claiming for a misdiagnosed knee fracture works, and if you wish to make a compensation claim we can provide you with a medical negligence solicitor to help you with making such a claim.
Choose A Section
- A Guide To Missed Knee Fracture Compensation Claims
- What Is A Missed Fracture?
- What Causes Fractures To Be Misdiagnosed?
- Causes Of Fractured Or Broken Kneecaps
- Fractured Knee Symptoms
- Fractured Kneecap Diagnosis & Treatment
- Am I Able To Claim Compensation For My Injuries?
- Claims When A GP Missed A Knee Fracture
- Claims When A Hospital Missed A Knee Fracture
- Your Rights When Being Treated By The NHS
- How Much Time Do I Have To Claim For A Negligent Misdiagnosis?
- Missed Knee Fracture Compensation Calculator
- No Win No Fee Missed Knee Fracture Claims
- Start My Claim
- Resources To Support This Guide
If you have been let down by your doctors and have suffered the medical consequences of it, you could be entitled to claim compensation. This guide will try to explain how to do that and on what grounds you could do it.
To do that we’re going to go over what missed fractures are, and what kind of medical negligence could cause it to happen, as well as briefly covering some of the medical details of the effects of a fractured kneecap. We feel it is important to know at least the basics of how making a medical negligence compensation claim works before you attempt to start one. That’s why we have included our personal injuries claims calculator, to show you what kind of sums of money you could be entitled to receive. Other details we will explain will include the personal injury claims time limit and a breakdown of the benefits of making a no win no fee personal injury claim.
This guide shouldn’t be the only material you read before making a personal injury claim for a missed knee fracture. We have included links to other useful guides and resources throughout this guide. For example, you may wish to read this guide to kneecap injuries produced by the NHS as well as our general guide to how misdiagnosis personal injury claims work.
It is up to doctors to spot and diagnose a fracture or a broken bone. They are expected to be able to do so barring certain circumstances. In some situations doctors may fail to spot and diagnose a fractured kneecap due to negligence, thus failing in their duty to their patients. Being able to diagnose a bone fracture is crucial to getting the patient the care and treatment they need. Missing or misdiagnosing a fracture could have very serious consequences for the patient. It could lead to a good deal of avoidable pain and suffering, it could lead to the bone not healing properly, thus leaving the patient potentially with a permanent disability. Having a broken bone misdiagnosed or missed at the stage when it should have been found and treated can lead to more drastic treatment and intervention later on.
In most cases, doctors should be able to spot and correctly diagnose bone fractures. There may be times when doctors perform their tasks correctly and are still unable to provide a correct diagnosis for one reason or another. In cases where doctors have been negligent, and have failed in their duty of care towards their patients, a misdiagnosis can arise from medical negligence. Some of the ways in which negligence can cause a misdiagnosis of a fracture to occur include:
- Doctors failing to spot the signs of a broken bone in an examination.
- Doctors failing to spot the signs of a broken bone in the results of an X-ray.
- Doctors failing to perform an X-ray
- Doctors failing to perform an X-ray correctly
- Doctors failing to perform an exam correctly
- Doctors diagnosing a broken bone as a sprain or soft tissue injury or vice versa
Like any bone, even sturdy structures like kneecaps can be broken or fractured by a blow or pressure of sufficient force. Most cases of broken kneecaps are caused by the force of a direct impact to the knee. This can occur from falling over and landing on your knee, during car accidents and in sports injuries. Knee caps can be either broken in one place or shattered into a number of different pieces. In some cases, the muscles, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues attached to the knee can be damaged as well.
There are certain symptoms and physical signs that may indicate that you have a broken or fractured kneecap. These are the things that a doctor or a paramedic might look out for when giving you an examination. If you experience them yourself go and see a doctor if you haven’t already. Symptoms of a fractured kneecap include:
- Feeling severe pain in and around your knee
- Experiencing swelling in and around the knee
- Finding it difficult and painful to move your knee
- Finding it difficult and painful to straighten your leg or to lift your leg in the air straight.
- Being able to spot a visible deformity or misshapenness in the knee.
- Feeling pain and tenderness in the knee when you touch it.
A doctor will look for the signs listed in the section above, asking you about pain and discomfort you are feeling in your leg and asking you to try moving and lifting your leg. They will almost certainly send you off to receive a series of X-ray scans to both confirm that you have a fracture and also to get a clear image of where the fracture is and how widespread it is.
You will probably require surgery to repair your kneecap. There are two types of surgery used to deal with injured kneecaps.
- Open reduction-internal fixation (ORIF): The flesh of the knee will be opened up, exposing the bone. The doctors will then reassemble the bones of the knee and hold them in place using pins, wires and screws. Bone fragments too small to be managed back into place will be taken out and discarded. The pins and other items used to secure the bones may or may not be removed at a later date.
- Patellectomy: This is the removal of the parts of the kneecap too badly damaged to repair, or in some cases the removal of the entire kneecap. The kneecap is not technically necessary for the use of the leg, but without it, the leg will be weaker and more difficult to move. Physical therapy and special exercises will be needed to begin regaining the strength and use of your leg.
You could have the right to claim compensation in some circumstances of having a missed knee fracture, but not in others. If the knee fracture was misdiagnosed, but you managed to recover from it without suffering any further health problems that would not be expected of a knee fracture that had been diagnosed and treated, then you would not have grounds to make a claim. There must be proof of preventable harm coming to you as a result of the misdiagnosed knee fracture.
If the knee fracture was misdiagnosed, but the doctor did all that could be reasonably expected of them, then you would be unlikely to be able to make a claim. There has to be proof that the misdiagnosis occurred as a result of the doctor being negligent and failing to do their duties correctly in order to be entitled to compensation. So for example if the misdiagnosis occurred because you did not co-operate with an examination or did not disclose certain symptoms, or if the fracture was of a kind that made it too difficult for doctors to reasonably spot, you would be unlikely to be able to make a valid claim.
To summarise; in order to make a medical negligence compensation claim, two things must both be proven.
- That the misdiagnosis occurred because of a doctor or a health professional’s negligence.
- That you subsequently suffered preventable health problems as a result of the misdiagnosis.
In many cases, the first medical professional that a patient with an injury will see will be a GP. GP’s are tasked with diagnosing a patients situation or, failing that, to refer them to other specialists or for scans and tests to confirm their condition. A GP won’t be considered to have done anything wrong necessarily if they fail to diagnose the patients injury themselves provided they have carried out their job to the standard expected of them and have followed the correct procedure.
A claim could be made, however, if the GP failed to spot the signs of a broken knee when a doctor of their level of qualification would be expected to. A claim could also be made if the doctor failed to refer a patient with a possible broken knee to receive an X-ray to confirm the extent and nature of the fracture and the patient subsequently suffered harm as a result of not receiving the correct treatment.
If a hospital failed to diagnose a fracture because doctors or staff made mistakes or failed to follow procedure you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation. For more information about how making medical negligence claims against hospitals works, you can read our dedicated guide to hospital negligence claims. There are a number of medical or clerical errors that could occur in a hospital to lead to a knee fracture being misdiagnosed.
- Doctors possibly in A&E performing an examination incorrectly and missing the signs of a fractured kneecap, or misreading the signs.
- Doctors performing an X-ray on the patient incorrectly, causing them to miss the fracture.
- Hospital staff failing to convey the results of the X-ray to the correct doctors.
The NHS has a constitution which outlines the rights of patients in its care. You can read through it here. As a patient, you are entitled to receive the right treatment possible without having your treatment impacted by medical negligence. A doctor who fails to treat or diagnose patients symptoms due to negligence can be considered to have breached their professional duty of care. The NHS operates a complaints service for people to report cases of care which they feel is unsatisfactory. You can learn more about it here.
The NHS is obligated to allow you to register with a GP and give you access to a doctor. Certain doctors are entitled to decline to treat certain patients based on the patient’s behaviour and actions, but being seen by a doctor is an unconditional right.
There is a three-year personal injury claim time limit for making a personal injury claim starting from the point when you became aware of the medical effects of having your knee fracture misdiagnosed. This represents your window of opportunity, you can appeal to have your time limit extended, but usually, if it has been more than three years you will not be eligible to begin a claim.
Each individual medical negligence claim case is different, the effects of the injury on a patients physical, emotional and financial state can vary from person to person. Your compensation will be tailored to meet your individual needs and to reflect how badly you have been affected by the misdiagnosis. Compensation will be divided into two parts; general damages and special damages.
General damages are the compensation awarded to repay the injury itself. It reflects the severity of the injury and the degree of impact it will have on your health and ability to live a normal life going forward. In the table below you can see how much money is assigned to certain types of injuries associated with knee fractures.
|Severe knee injury (i)||Serious injury where arthodesis or an arthoplasty has taken place causing considerable pain and loss of function.||£65,440 to £90,290|
|Severe knee injury (ii)||Leg fracture extending into the knee causing permanent pain and loss of mobility.||£48,920 to £65,440|
|Severe knee injury (iii)||Less severe symptoms that those listed above, such as less serious pain, greater retention of movement and less pronounced deformity. Some risk of further degeneration.||£24,580 to £40,770|
|Moderate knee injury (i)||Soft tissue injuries causing mild disability. May also accelerate or exacerbate pre-existing condition.||£13,920 to £24,580|
|Moderate knee injury (ii)||Less serious soft tissue injuries than those in above category, Where the length of period of exacerbation is shorter, some cases may result in full recovery.||Up to £12,900|
|Severe leg injuries (i)||The worst sort of injuries short of amputation. Included degloving, shortening of the leg,or where bone grafting has been necessary.||£90,320 to £127,530|
|Severe leg injuries (ii)||Injuries which leave the victim needing walking aids such as crutches for the rest of their lives.||£51,460 to £85,600|
|Severe leg injuries (iii)||Injuries causing lengthy loss of use, scarring and near certainty of developing arthritis.||£36,790 to £51,460|
|Moderate leg injuries.||Complicated or multiple fractures and crushing injuries.||£26,050 to £36,790|
|Less serious leg injuries||Fractures, or soft tissue injuries which do not fully recover.||£16,860 to £26,050|
Special damages are the amounts of compensation you could receive for the money you have spent or have lost following your injury. It is intended to make sure that in the event of a successful claim you do not lose money and are financially secure despite your injury. Special damages can compensate for things like:
- Medical expenses
- Time took off work or changes to your occupation.
- Care costs from requiring support due to either a temporary or permanent disability.
- Travel expenses from using public transport to reach medical care or from requiring adapted vehicles
- Home adaption costs.
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation costs.
In order to be claimed back in compensation, all your losses and expenses need to be verified and calculated using invoices, receipts, wage slips and other forms of documentation. Make sure you keep these so that you can present them when needed.
You don’t have to worry about where the money for hiring a personal injury solicitor is going to come from if you make your claim with Medical Negligence Assist. Our entire panel of solicitors are no win no fee. Meaning that their payment will come from a negotiated portion of the compensation you will receive if the claim is successful. If the claim is unsuccessful you will not be asked to pay the solicitor. This method may result in you taking home slightly less in compensation than you would if you had paid for the solicitor’s services upfront, but it also means you won’t be placing yourself in financial risk by starting a claim.
If reading this article has convinced you to try and start a claim, or if it has still left you with questions, you can talk to our medical negligence claims team by calling a 0800 652 3087 or by filling in this online claim form to arrange a phone conversation.
Written by Jack
Edited by LisM.