This injury is usually the result of a blow to the ulna shaft and can cause severe pain, along with swelling, the inability to use your arm, and other uncomfortable symptoms. If you suspect that you have sustained this type of fracture injury, you could visit your hospital to get a diagnosis and appropriate advice and support with treating the injury. However, if you suffer a missed nightstick fracture despite seeking advice and treatment for such an injury, this could cause issues with healing. If a doctor did not order an X-ray, this may lead to a nightstick fracture being missed. If this is the case, then the bones may not knit together properly, and you could end up needing more invasive treatment or suffering a poorer prognosis than you would if the doctor had not been negligent.
This guide has been compiled to give you information if you have suffered avoidable harm from having a nightstick fracture misdiagnosed. If you would like more specific guidance based on your situation or are already considering making a medical negligence claim, then you can call us on 0800 652 3087, but before you do, why not read below to see if your question has already been answered.
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- A Guide To Missed Nightstick Fracture Compensation Claims
- What Is A Nightstick Fracture?
- Why Are Fractures Misdiagnosed Or Undiagnosed?
- What Are The Causes Of Nightstick Fractures?
- Nightstick Fracture Symptoms
- Nightstick Fracture Treatment And Diagnosis
- When Could You Claim Compensation For Undiagnosed Fractures?
- Claims For Nightstick Fractures Missed By GPs
- Claims For Nightstick Fractures Missed By Hospitals
- NHS Rights For Patients
- Medical Misdiagnosis Claim Time Limits
- Missed Nightstick Fracture Compensation Calculator
- No Win No Fee Misdiagnosed Nightstick Fracture Claims
- Speak To Us Today
- Supporting Resources
If you have hurt your arm and feel that it could be possible that you have broken a bone, it could be prudent of you to visit a medical professional, whether a GP or a doctor at the hospital. You would expect a doctor to know how best to diagnose and treat your arm injury, and you might expect them to send you for an X-ray in some cases, before confirming a diagnosis and giving you the appropriate treatment so that you could heal. However, what if you do not get the advice and treatment you need because medical staff have missed your nightstick fracture? This type of injury could be quite painful, and, as it affects a limb you would use often, could affect your activities. This could make it important to treat the injury as quickly and appropriately as possible so that you could have the best chance of healing well.
If you have a nightstick fracture misdiagnosed, you may not get the right advice or treatment, and this could make the injury worse, as the injury might not heal as it should. This could mean that you would have to undergo more invasive treatment for the nightstick fracture, or you may have long-term problems that stem from the improper healing of the injury. Either way, this could be classed as avoidable harm, you could be eligible for compensation for the harm you’ve experienced and the financial implications of the negligence you’ve suffered.
If you’ve never heard a description of a nightstick fracture being given to an ulna fracture before, you may be surprised to hear this terminology used. So, what is a nightstick fracture? Essentially, this type of injury is a fractured ulna, which is a bone in your forearm, and the site of the injury would be the middle third of the bone.
Why Is It Called A Nightstick Fracture?
The reason this terminology is used is that the injury would typically be seen in cases where the injured party was trying to protect the head from a blow (perhaps from a nightstick). This exposes the ulnar shaft to blunt force trauma, which could result in a fracture. This could be different from instances where both the radius and ulna fracture. Usually, if both bones are broken, the trauma would be to the whole of the forearm, and not just the side of the arm where the ulna is located.
Different Types Of Ulna Fracture
If the break is in the proximal third of the ulna, then it might be referred to as a monteggia fracture, and a fracture of the distal third of the radius with dislocation of the distal radioulnar joint could be called a galeazzi fracture. There could be some confusion when it comes to the greenstick vs nightstick fracture diagnosis, especially for those who are not familiar with the different types of fractures. Usually, a greenstick fracture diagnosis would be appropriate for younger patients, and the bone would not necessarily be completely snapped, whereas, with a nightstick fracture, the bone would be completely broken. However, the break could be in a similar part of the arm in both cases.
There are lots of reasons a nightstick fracture could be misdiagnosed. These could include:
A failure to order the correct diagnostic tests – Usually, this type of fracture would be diagnosed via an X-ray. However, if a doctor did not order an X-ray, this may lead to a nightstick fracture being missed.
A failure to properly X-ray the affected area – If the X-ray isn’t taken at the right angle, or isn’t clear, then a doctor could miss the fracture as it didn’t show up properly on the X-ray.
A failure to assess an X-ray accurately – If you have suffered a nightstick fracture and it appears on an X-ray, a doctor should be able to see it. However, if they do not assess your X-ray carefully, this could be missed, especially if the fracture is not displaced.
The reasons some of these mistakes in diagnosis could occur could be for a number of reasons. It has been recorded that GPs and hospitals are being put under pressure, particularly in the winter months, and this pressure may lead to mistakes being made in patients’ care.
As previously mentioned, usually, the cause of a nightstick fracture could be blunt trauma to a person who is raising their arms to protect their face from trauma. However, these injuries, depending on the positioning of the arms, could also be caused by:
- Road traffic accidents
- Theme park accidents
- Crush accidents
- Sporting accidents
- And more…
It would be prudent of us to mention that it does not matter how the initial injury was sustained. If your nightstick fracture was missed, when you showed clear symptoms of a nightstick fracture to a medical professional, then you could consider making a claim for harm you have suffered because of the negligence of the medical professional in diagnosing and treating you.
If you’re experiencing symptoms after a blow to the arm, you may be wondering whether these are, in fact nightstick fracture symptoms. If you have suffered a nightstick fracture of the arm, you may experience:
- Deformity of the arm
- Tenderness around the area
- Trouble moving the arm
- And more…
If you seek advice from a medical professional because you are suffering with an injury to the arm, they would usually ask you how you sustained the injury, and where the pain was, along with asking you to describe any other symptoms. Based on your description, and an examination of the area, the medical professional may send you for an X-ray. They might, however, be able to tell very quickly that you have broken a bone if the fracture is an open one.
What Is An Open Fracture?
If you have sustained an open fracture, you may be able to see parts of the bone that have broken, as you would usually have an open wound which may have been caused by the bone poking through the skin.
Treatment for A Nightstick Fracture
Depending on how clean the break was, and whether the fracture was displaced (where the bones move out of their natural position) you may have to have surgery, or you may simply need a cast or splint while the bones knit back together.
How Long Does It Take For A Nightstick Fracture To Heal?
Usually, an ulna could take between 4 and 6 weeks to heal but your doctor may require your arm to remain immobilised for longer if the fracture is a complex one, or you have required surgery. Each case would be assessed on its own merits.
Claiming compensation for a missed nightstick fracture would require you to prove two things. These are:
Causation – You would need to prove that the clinical negligence you experienced caused you to suffer avoidable harm.
Breach of duty – You would need to prove that someone (a medical professional) had a duty of care towards you and that they breached this duty.
Proving clinical negligence could be quite a difficult task, which is why some people prefer to rely on the experience of a medical negligence lawyer to help them. If you would like some support with finding a lawyer, we could help you.
Did you visit a GP with symptoms of a nightstick fracture? If so, then they should have discussed your injury with you and if they could not diagnose the injury themselves, they should send you to someone who could. In many cases, it could be appropriate for you to be referred for an X-ray if you suffer such symptoms and if a GP fails to do so, and this causes you to suffer harm because of a missed nightstick fracture, then your GP could be held responsible for the further harm you’ve suffered.
According to the British Medical Journal, a study was conducted in the prevalence of misdiagnoses at an emergency department that found that misreading of radiographs and failure to perform tests were the most common reasons that fractures were misdiagnosed, at 77.8% and 13.4% respectively.
If you believe a missed nightstick fracture has caused you harm, whether for either of the above reasons or another act of medical negligence, you could consider making a claim for compensation.
Patients of the NHS have a right to safe, effective treatment. This is just one of the CQC fundamental standards. They should also be cared for by competent, qualified and capable staff. NHS rights for patients have also been strengthened in recent years, with patients having stronger rights when it comes to medical errors. These include:
Complaint handling rights – Patients have a right for their complaints to be acknowledged within three days and their rights regarding the handling of such complaints have strengthened.
Openness – Should a mistake have been made with your care, the patient should have the right to know about the mistakes. They should also receive an explanation as to how the mistake occurred and an apology.
You also have a right to make a claim for medical negligence should you have suffered avoidable harm because of avoidable mistakes having been made in your care. This could include a claim for a missed or misdiagnosed nightstick fracture of the ulna.
Making a claim for negligent nightstick fracture treatment has some restrictions, and one of these is the personal injury claims time limit. Whether you are claiming for private or NHS negligence, there are legal limits in place as to how long you would have to launch a claim. In many cases, the time limit would be three years from the date of discovery that the missed nightstick fracture caused you avoidable harm. This is not necessarily the same as the date you may have been sent away from a doctor’s surgery or hospital with the wrong diagnosis. You may have sought further treatment some days or weeks later, because you were still suffering from the symptoms of a nightstick fracture, and only then discovered that the nightstick fracture had been missed, and this had caused you avoidable harm. This could be considered the date of discovery, and this is when the limitation period would start.
There are some exceptions to the time limit, however, especially when it comes to claiming for a missed fracture as a child, when no adult had claimed on your behalf, or because you lacked the capacity to claim at the time. If you would like to learn more about these exceptions, please do not hesitate to call our team for advice.
Are you considering claiming compensation for a missed nightstick fracture? If so, you may be wondering how much compensation could be appropriate for your claim. You may have thought about seeking advice from a personal injury claims calculator for this specific injury, but we have chosen to display an alternative to a claims calculator, and instead, have taken payout guideline amounts from the Judicial College Guidelines, which we’ve presented below in a table. If you cannot see the injury you feel you have sustained in the table, we could offer you more guidance over the phone.
|Type of Injury||Notes||Guideline Bracket|
|Severe arm injuries||Not amputations, but injuries that fall just short of an amputation, where the arm might as well have been lost.||£90,250 to £122,860|
|Arm injuries resulting in disablement||Forearm fractures (one or both of the arms) significant residual disability (permanent) either cosmetic or functional.||£36,770 to £56,180|
|Less severe arm injuries||A substantial recovery may have taken place but there would have been disabilities that were significant initially.||£18,020 to £36,770|
|Fracture to the forearm||Simple||£6,190 to £18,020|
It would be a good idea for us to tell you that as well as the amounts you see in the table above, which could be paid out as general damages, you may also be able to claim special damages for your missed nightstick fracture. This is because sometimes, clinical negligence doesn’t just harm a person physically or mentally; it could also cause financial harm.
For example, if you have had to take time off work to recover from a misdiagnosed nightstick fracture, or you’ve had to undergo further treatment because your nightstick fracture was missed, you may have lost out on some of your wages. This could be covered as special damages within your personal injury claim. In addition to this, other costs may have arisen due to your undiagnosed fracture, such as medical costs and travel costs, for example. Special damages could also include the costs of care if someone has had to look after you because you couldn’t wash/dress for example.
If you have had a nightstick fracture misdiagnosed or missed, and you have suffered avoidable harm because your fracture was not treated appropriately, then you may wish to make a claim with the assistance of a medical negligence lawyer. There could be certain benefits of using this type of personal injury lawyer to help you. They would have the capability and knowledge of how to build a strong claim, and they could also help to advise you on what could be an appropriate settlement amount for your injury. For example, if you received an offer of compensation that your medical negligence solicitor thought was too low, they could advise you to see if you could fight for more compensation, with their help.
Retaining the services of such a personal injury solicitor would not have to mean you have to fund your claim upfront, however. You could use the services of a No Win No Fee solicitor who, instead of asking for funds upfront, would ask you to sign an agreement, known as a Conditional Fee Agreement, to promise to pay them a percentage of your compensation payout, should your claim be successful. The percentage cannot be more than 25% of your payout and would only be payable if your claim was successful. Making a personal injury claim in this way could reduce financial risk to claimants and could be an option well worth considering.
If you would like to learn more about how to go about making a claim for a missed nightstick fracture, here at Medical Negligence Assist, we’re here to help. Not only could we answer questions such as ‘What is the personal injury claims time limit for my case?’, ‘How much compensation could be appropriate?’ and ‘Would I be eligible to make a medical malpractice claim?’, our specially trained advisors could also help connect you with a medical negligence solicitor who could help to take your case forward on your behalf. To reach our friendly, professional team, simply call 0800 652 3087, fill out our contact form, or alternatively, use the live chat feature on this page.
Read More On Patients’ Rights – Here you can read about patients’ rights on the NHS.
Fractured Ulna and Radius Information – Here, you can read more about this type of injury and its treatment.
Were You Misdiagnosed? – If so, this guide could offer some useful information.
Negligence At A Private Hospital– If you have suffered hospital negligence, you may find the information in this guide of use.
Negligence By A Dentist – If this is the type of negligence you’ve suffered, then this guide may be of interest.
Written by Jo
Edited by LisM.