If you’re involved in an accident, it’s not always clear what injuries you’ve sustained. Therefore, you have to put your trust in medical professionals and hope that they can diagnose your condition and treat it correctly. In many cases, that happens, and the patient receives suitable treatment at the earliest opportunity. However, if in some cases, injuries are missed the patient may go on to suffer for longer than necessary. In this guide, we’re going to look at the specific case of a missed olecranon fracture. We’ll discuss why a misdiagnosis might happen, who might be responsible and when you could claim against them.
Here at Medical Negligence Assist, we offer free legal advice about making a claim. Our advisors also offer a no-obligation assessment of any medical negligence claim. In cases where they believe the claim has good grounds to be won, they’re able to introduce claimants to one of our panel of no win no fee solicitors.
If you’re ready to discuss your claim, you can get in touch on 0800 652 3087. Alternatively, you can find out more about olecranon fractures and when you could claim when they’re missed by continuing to read our guide.
Choose A Section
- A Guide To Missed Olecranon Fracture Claims
- What Is A Missed Fracture?
- Causes Of Breaks And Fractures Being Misdiagnosed
- Causes Of Fractured Olecranon Bones
- Symptoms Of An Olecranon Fracture
- Treatment And Management For Olecranon Fractures
- When You Could Make A Missed Olecranon (Elbow) Fracture Claim
- Missed Olecranon Fractures By GP’s
- Missed Olecranon Fracture By Hospitals
- Rights When Under The Care Of The NHS
- Missed Olecranon (Elbow) Fracture Compensation Claim Time Limits
- Calculating Compensation For A Missed Olecranon Fracture
- No Win No Fee Claims For Missed Olecranon Fractures
- Start An Undiagnosed Fracture Claim
A Guide To Missed Olecranon Fracture Claims
In this guide, we’re going to discuss making a compensation claim for a missed olecranon fracture. The olecranon is a bone that makes up the elbow joint so we may refer to missed elbow fractures as well.
In a normal personal injury claim, you’d claim against a negligent person who caused an accident to happen in which you were injured. The type of claim we’re talking about in this guide, however, are those where a medical professional failed to diagnose your elbow fracture and caused you additional suffering.
We’ll discuss why they might miss a fracture, what complications that could lead to, and when compensation might be claimed. We’ll also provide information on the claims process and how much you could be entitled to.
Also, as well as looking at different reasons for fractures being missed, we’ll look at who might miss them such as GPs or doctors at A&E. As we progress through this guide, we aim to answer some common questions linked to elbow injuries including:
- How long does an elbow fracture take to heal?
- What treatment is required for a fractured elbow?
- Can I use my arm while my elbow fracture is healing?
At the end of this guide, we’ve provided links to some NHS resources which you might find useful. However, if you have any further questions regarding the claims process or your entitlement to claim, please call the number at the top of the screen. Our advisors will happily assist you wherever possible.
What Is A Missed Fracture?
The olecranon is the large curved part of the ulna (long bone of the forearm). It forms part of the socket joint of the elbow which the humerus (ball joint) fits into. The olecranon is the pointed part of the elbow.
When we talk of a missed olecranon fracture, we mean where a medical professional, such as a hospital doctor or surgeon fails to spot the symptoms of the fracture. It could also mean where the medical professional has suspected the elbow is fractured but did not identify it properly on an X-ray.
Any bone fracture that’s not diagnosed correctly can mean two things:
- The patient suffers more pain because they don’t receive the correct treatment.
- Also, the bone might not heal properly which could lead to a long-lasting disability.
Causes Of Breaks And Fractures Being Misdiagnosed
In most cases, if you’ve been involved in an accident and are in pain, you’ll usually end up in Accident & Emergency or at your local GP surgery. Any medical practitioner who assesses you will have had many years of training to help them identify and diagnose injuries based on the symptoms you present with.
Even though many patients receive the correct diagnosis and subsequently the right treatment, sometimes mistakes may happen. If they do, if the mistake leads to additional suffering for the patient, then a compensation claim could be possible. Here are some scenarios where a bone fracture might be missed:
- When a patient isn’t referred to hospital for an X-ray because the GP suspects the symptoms related to a different injury.
- If the A&E department is overly busy and the assessment of the patient is rushed.
- Where the fracture is difficult to see because it’s obscured on the X-ray.
- If the doctor in the hospital doesn’t ask for an X-ray because they dismiss the chances of a fracture and diagnose another injury.
Causes Of Fractured Olecranon Bones
A fracture of the olecranon is a fairly common injury. It’s where the pointy part of the elbow is fractured. The injury can be caused by:
- A direct blow to the elbow. This could include collisions, items falling on the elbow or impact with machinery in an accident at work.
- Impact caused by a fall where the injured party lands on the elbow.
Symptoms Of An Olecranon Fracture
To identify a potential elbow fracture, a doctor or medical professional will usually look for any of the following symptoms:
- Bruising on the elbow. In some cases, the bruising can travel up or down the arm towards the shoulder and wrist.
- Swelling at the tip or back of the elbow.
- Numbness of the fingers (this could be in one or more).
- Tenderness of the elbow.
- Being unable to straighten the elbow or pain while trying to do so.
- The feeling that the elbow is going to pop out when it’s moved.
Treatment And Management For Olecranon Fractures
The first part of your treatment will begin with a physical assessment by a doctor. This could happen at A&E or your local GP surgery. The doctor will look for any of the symptoms listed previously and then ask you about the accident that caused the injury.
If they suspect the elbow might be fractured, they’ll refer you for a scan. In most cases, this will be an X-ray. When the X-ray is returned it will be used to identify if the elbow is fractured and, if so, what type of fracture has been sustained.
When a fracture is diagnosed, the initial treatment will include a splint being fitted to prevent the arm from moving. You’ll probably also receive medication to relieve any pain and to help reduce the swelling.
If the X-ray shows a simple fracture, you may just have to wear the splint for around 6 weeks to allow the bone to heal naturally. However, if the bones have moved out of place or any of the fractured bone has pierced the skin, surgery may be required. During surgery, pins, plates and screws will be used to help hold the pieces of bones in alignment so that they can heal correctly.
When You Could Make A Missed Olecranon (Elbow) Fracture Claim
In a normal personal injury claim, you have to show that somebody else’s negligence caused an accident in which you were injured. In medical negligence claims, the process is slightly different. To prove medical negligence, your solicitor will need to demonstrate that:
- The medical professional that treated you did so in a level that was below what could be reasonably expected of a competent professional. Legally, this is called a breach of duty.
- Then you need to demonstrate that you suffered additional pain, suffering or some form of disability (long or short-term).
- And that the pain and suffering was caused because of the breach of duty and not some other underlying issue. This is called causation.
As you can see, the evidence required to prove medical negligence in a compensation claim can be fairly tricky to obtain. Therefore, we advise that you make use of a specialist solicitor who can try and ensure you receive the right amount of compensation by presenting the correct evidence to substantiate your claim.
Missed Olecranon Fractures By GP’s
GPs often have very heavy workloads and have to see a lot of patients daily. As a result, the length of time they spend with each patient can be very short. However, in many cases, they manage to understand the problem, diagnose the cause and arrange a suitable treatment plan within the first appointment.
If a GP fails to spot the signs of a fracture when they have the capabilities to do so and fail to refer the patient for diagnostic testing it can mean any treatment is delayed. The delay in receiving the correct treatment could lead to additional suffering and also longer-term problems. Therefore, it may be possible to claim against the GP.
Missed Olecranon Fractures By Hospitals
The other place an olecranon fracture could be missed is within a hospital. There are a number of reasons why that might be the case, including:
- A doctor has to rush your consultation because the department is short-staffed.
- Your injury is diagnosed as something else which means an X-ray doesn’t happen.
- The fracture isn’t clearly identifiable on the X-ray.
- A junior doctor doesn’t spot the fracture and fails to ask a senior colleague to check their diagnosis.
Rights When Under The Care Of The NHS
The NHS was founded in 1948 to provide high level healthcare for residents in the United Kingdom. In 2012, the NHS constitution for patients in England outlined a number of rights for patients. These include:
- The right to register with a GP surgery (providing you live in their area).
- A right to be treated by a GP in that surgery (for free).
- An out of hours service when a GP is off duty. This could be provided by a locum or telephone-based service.
- There’s no automatic right for a second opinion (but a doctor might allow one if asked).
- You’re entitled to hospital treatment if your GP refers you. Some services like A&E don’t require a referral.
- You can ask for specific consultant to treat you if your GP agrees that they are suitable.
- If you’re on a waiting list for treatment, you can ask the local clinical commissioning group (CCG) for a list of alternative providers if you wait longer than the maximum waiting time.
Missed Olecranon (Elbow) Fracture Compensation Claim Time Limits
When claiming for clinical negligence, you need to ensure you do so within the personal injury claims time limit. In a normal compensation claim, you’d have 3-years to claim from the date you suffered your fractured elbow. However, as we’re talking about misdiagnosis claims, the 3-year period will begin from the date you became aware of the actual additional suffering causing by the misdiagnosis.
Calculating Compensation For A Missed Olecranon Fracture
When making a medical negligence claim, your solicitor can claim for general damages and special damages. General damages are used to compensate you for the pain caused by your injuries. To help calculate the amount you could receive, solicitors, courts and insurers use a legal document called the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). Some examples of figures in the JCG are included in our personal injury claims calculator table below.
|Range of Compensation
|£36,770 to £51,460
|Injuries which are classed as severely disabling fall in to this compensation range.
|£14,690 to £30,050
|Less severe elbow injuries which cause an impaired function but don't require major surgery or leave a significant disability.
|Up to £11,820
|This bracket covers a number of different elbow injuries including simple fractures, lacerations and tennis elbow syndrome with no lasting damage but take around 3-years to fully resolve
|Up to £5,890
|As with moderate injuries but where the recovery time is around 18-24 months.
|Up to £3,310
|The same injuries as in the moderate category but this bracket covers injuries that recover in around 1-year.
|£6,190 to £18,020
|Simple fractures of the forearm are covered by this compensation bracket.
|In the region of £6,970
|This category covers injuries such as an uncomplicated Colle's fracture of the wrist.
It’s important to note that general damages are based on the severity of your injury. Therefore, a personal injury lawyer needs to provide evidence to substantiate exactly how you suffered. They can also look at whether there will be any long-term effects caused by your injury such as an ongoing disability. To help prove this, and to try and ensure you’re compensated fully, our panel of solicitors use independent doctors to assess you.
The other part of your personal injury claim, special damages, is based on financial losses linked to your injuries. There are a number of these that you could claim for, including:
- Medical expenses – including the cost of prescription medicines and other treatments.
- Travelling costs – such as the cost of getting to and from the doctor’s surgery or hospital.
- Care expenses – this could be for the cost of a carer who supported your recovery.
- Lost earnings – should you lose any income due to time off work (as a result of your injuries), you could claim them back.
- Future lost income – to cover any predicted lost earnings because your long-term ability to work is affected by your injuries.
No Win No Fee Claims For Missed Olecranon Fractures
It’s fairly common to worry about the cost of hiring a personal injury solicitor when considering a compensation claim. However, you needn’t worry if you contact us as our panel of solicitors all work on a no win no fee basis when they take a claim on. They do so to reduce the financial risks involved with claiming. In turn, this allows more people to make a claim for the compensation they could be entitled to.
When you get in touch, your claim will be assessed by the solicitor. Should they think it has good enough grounds to proceed, they’ll offer you a conditional fee agreement (CFA) to sign. This is your contract and it’s quite important because it’s the document which explains that you only have to pay solicitor’s fees if your claim is successful and compensation is awarded.
When your case is won, the CFA will explain what ‘success fee’ you’ll pay. The success fee is used to cover the solicitor’s fees for their work. It is expressed as a percentage of your compensation and it’s deducted before the compensation is sent to you. Typically, you’ll pay 25% of your compensation.
Start An Undiagnosed Fracture Claim
We hope that you’ve found this guide about missed olecranon fractures helpful. We also hope that if you’ve decided to make a claim, you’d like Medical Negligence Assist to support you. If so, here are the best ways to get in touch:
- You can call our team of specialist advisors on 0800 652 3087
- Alternatively, if you’d like them to give you a callback, then you can complete our online claims form.
- Finally, we have a live chat feature available from any page on our website where you can chat online with a specialist.
Our live chat and claims line are available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week so that you can discuss a claim when it’s most convenient. The process will begin with a no-obligation assessment of your claim as well as free legal advice. If you have a strong case, our advisors could refer you to a medical negligence solicitor on our panel. Should they agree to handle your claim, they’ll work on a no win no fee basis.
You’ve now reached the end of our guide about claiming for a missed olecranon fracture. In case you require any further information, we’ve provided links to some of our other medical negligence guides.
Misdiagnosis Claims – Information on when you could use a medical negligence lawyer to help claim for suffering caused by a misdiagnosis.
Claiming Against A Hospital – There are times when it might be necessary to claim for hospital negligence
Time Taken To Claim – This guide provides information on how long different types of medical malpractice claims can take.
NHS Medical Resources
In this final section, we’ve provided you with some links to NHS resources that might be helpful.
Olecranon Fracture Information – This is leaflet provided by an NHS hospital to patients who’ve suffered an olecranon fracture.
Broken Bones – A guide from the NHS which explains the symptoms that might be present when you fracture a bone.
NHS Service Locator – This handy tool lets you find NHS services in your areas such as hospitals, doctors, dentists and urgent care services.
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Written by Brett
Edited by LisM.