When we go to see our GP or we take a trip to the Accident and Emergency Department, we would expect the medical professional we see to provide us with the diagnosis and the treatment that we need. However, there could be cases whereby mistakes could be made, and if negligent mistakes made by a medical professional cause you harm, this is when medical negligence cases could be made. In this guide, we look at missed rib fracture cases specifically. If you have been the victim of a negligent misdiagnosed fracture of the rib, you may be wondering whether or not you could claim compensation. We have a team of advisors who would be happy to answer any queries you may have and may be able to help you to get started with making a claim if you are eligible to do so. You can reach our team by calling 0800 652 3087. However, we recommend that you continue reading this guide first, as you could find some information useful to you if you are thinking about making a claim for a missed fracture of the rib.
Choose A Section
- A Guide To Missed Rib Fracture Compensation Claims
- What Are Mistakes In Diagnosing Fractures?
- Causes Of Fractures Being Misdiagnosed
- Causes Of Fractured Or Broken Ribs
- Symptoms Of A Broken Or Fractured Rib Bone
- Treatment And Diagnosis For Fractured, Cracked And Broken Ribs
- Could I Claim If Harmed By Medical Malpractice?
- Missed Rib Fracture Claims Against A GP Or Doctor
- Missed Rib Fracture Claims Against Hospitals
- What Rights Do I Have When Treated By The NHS?
- Medical Misdiagnosis Claim Time Limits
- Misdiagnosed Rib Fracture Compensation Calculator
- No Win No Fee Claims For Misdiagnosed Rib Fractures
- Contacting Medical Negligence Assist
- Supporting Resources
There are a number of different reasons why a person may experience a misdiagnosed broken rib. This guide has been created to provide you with all of the details you may need to know about making a claim for a missed fracture of the rib. Covered in the sections below is information concerning what you could expect from a broken rib injury, including effective management of rib fractures, rib fracture treatment, fractured rib symptoms, and more. Also included are examples of different medical negligence scenarios; from GP negligence to hospital negligence. In addition to this, the level of payout that you may be entitled to if you are able to make a claim is explained, as well as some advice on hiring a medical negligence lawyer and making a claim. If you have any questions by the time you finish reading this guide, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us for more details. You will find all of the contact information you require at the end of the guide.
A mistake in diagnosing a fracture could refer to an incident where a medical professional has failed to provide a diagnosis of a fracture that the patient presented with. In the case of a missed rib fracture, a medical professional has not concluded that you have a broken rib, and therefore, they may have missed an opportunity to provide you with effective advice and treatment. There are different reasons why this could happen, as you will discover below.
You may be wondering how a professional could miss a rib fracture. There are a number of different situations that could result in a misdiagnosed fracture of the rib. Some examples could include the following:
- An inexperienced doctor may not have requested an X-ray when they should have – this could include situations where the symptoms explained and the description of the accident were not typical of a fracture, and so an x-ray was never offered, or it may have been because the doctor failed to associate symptoms with a possible diagnosis of a fracture.
- The doctor may not have received the X-ray results for further action.
- The view taken on the x-ray may not have been for the correct area, meaning the fracture may not have been spotted.
- The fracture may have been hard to see on the X-ray, and so the medical professional may have missed it.
This list is not exclusive. There are a number of other situations that could result in a misdiagnosed fracture. If your rib fracture went undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, if it was due to medical negligence and it caused you avoidable harm, you could be eligible to claim compensation.
There are a number of different scenarios that could cause a broken rib. Sometimes, broken ribs could be the result of a direct impact, for example, blunt trauma from contact sports, child abuse, falls, motor vehicle accidents, and more. Repetitive trauma from sports like rowing or golf could also cause a rib fracture. Prolonged and severe coughing could also lead to chronic rib fracture.
There are a number of different risk factors as well. If you have a cancerous lesion in the rib, this could cause the bone to weaken, which could make it more likely to break. Aside from this, participating in sports like football or hockey could increase your risk of any sort of chest trauma. Furthermore, if you have osteoporosis, your bones could lose their density, which could also make a bone fracture more probable.
There are a number of fractured rib symptoms that you may experience if you have this sort of injury. This could include hearing or feeling a crack. You may also see some bruising on your skin. Other symptoms could include tenderness or swelling around the ribs that have been affected, or strong pain in your chest area, especially when you breathe in. Ribs cannot be easily splinted or supported, as could be the case with other bones, and so rib fracture treatment usually involves leaving them to heal naturally. There are a number of things you could do yourself in order to ease the pain and aid the healing process, however. For example, some rib fracture guidelines may include resting and taking time off work as required and holding an ice pack to the affected ribs regularly could help to bring the swelling down.
Some people may believe that having an X-ray is the only way to confirm a fracture. However, every case is different. Firstly, your doctor should ask about the symptoms you have and they should examine you to see if there are any fracture signs, like tenderness or swelling. They would also usually ask you how the injury happened and they would want to find out about your medical history too. Once they have done this, an X-ray may be conducted in order to see if you have a fracture. However, this is not always necessary with rib fractures.
In terms of rib fracture treatment, your doctor would probably give you painkillers when you first see them in order to help with the pain. According to the NHS, ”There are no specific treatments for rib/sternum fractures.” Your physiotherapist would be able to give you advice on how to keep mobile while you have fractured ribs, for example.
In order to establish a medical negligence claim, there are two things that need to be proved. First and foremost, there needs to have been a breach of duty, i.e. a fault or negligence. Secondly, it needs to be proven that your injury was caused because of this breach of duty. This is known as avoidable harm or causation.
A breach of duty would mean that the level of care that you received did not reach that standard that could reasonably be expected for a competent healthcare professional. In order for causation to be established, you would need to demonstrate that the injury you have experienced has resulted from negligent care, as opposed to the underlying condition.
It may be prudent for us to point out that there is a personal injury claims time limit on most clinical negligence cases. This time period is three years. However, there could be some exceptions to this time limit, and we will explain this in further detail later in the guide.
You could be under the misapprehension that a misdiagnosed rib fracture would not be likely to cause you much harm, in some cases it could. While treatment for a rib fracture is usually to leave it to heal itself, there could be complications caused by a rib fracture that, if missed, could cause a patient to suffer avoidable harm.
For example, one of the complications of a rib fracture could involve the lung being punctured by part of the broken rib. This is known as a traumatic pneumothorax. This could cause serious problems for an injured party, such as difficulty breathing, pain, a rapid heart rate, fatigue, and pale or blue tinged skin. Urgent treatment could be required to resolve these issues.
If you visit your GP with symptoms of a broken rib, and the GP cannot be sure whether or not the injury has caused your lung to be punctured, they should refer you to someone who can confirm or rule out a punctured lung. If they do not do so, and you suffer avoidable harm because of their negligence, you could be eligible to claim compensation for the harm you suffered.
As mentioned above, in some cases, a missed or misdiagnosed fracture of the rib may not always cause you harm. However, if you present at a hospital with symptoms of a broken rib, and other symptoms that could point to a complication such as a punctured lung, as described in the section above, or a haemothorax, which is where blood collects between the chest wall and the lung, you should have these symptoms assessed so that the correct diagnosis could be given and so you could receive appropriate advice and/or treatment. If you suffer a misdiagnosed broken rib that has caused one of these complications, and you are sent away from the hospital without the proper diagnosis, this could cause you to suffer avoidable harm.
If you have suffered complications from a missed fracture of the rib, and you believe that this is due to medical negligence on the part of the hospital, please do not hesitate to call our team for advice on whether you could claim compensation.
If you are thinking about making a claim for NHS negligence, you will probably wish to know your NHS patient rights. Firstly, you have a right to a certain standard of healthcare when using NHS services. There are a number of bodies in place that assist with this. The Care Quality Commission, for example, checks all primary health services and hospitals to make sure they are adhering to government standards. You could also compare the customer ratings and performance of your local health services through the use of the MyNHS website.
Aside from a certain standard of healthcare, there are other rights that you have as a patient of the NHS. This includes your right to a GP and your ability to choose a GP. With regards to the former, if you live within a GP’s catchment area, you have a right to register with them, even if you have come from overseas. You could receive a list of all of your local GPs from NHS Choices or your local HealthWatch. The list that you receive ought to contain information such as the GP’s gender, the telephone number and surgery address, the languages the GP speaks, if the GP agrees for this to be included, and specific health interests, if the GP agrees for this to be included. The list may also state the deputising arrangements for the GP, whether the GP provides maternity and/or contraceptive services, as well as whether the GP performs minor surgery.
Aside from this, you are entitled to receive treatment from a GP at the surgery whereby you have registered. You do not have an automatic right to see your own GP, though, as this is not always going to be possible. If treatment is necessary immediately due to an emergency, a GP must provide this, even if you have not registered with them.
One thing some people may not realise is that there is a claims time limit on most clinical negligence claims of three years. This begins from the date of the negligent incident or the date of discovery that a missed diagnosis, misdiagnosis or other negligent act caused you harm, and court proceedings will typically need to have begun within this period of time. Nevertheless, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if you were under the age of 18-years-old when the accident occurred, you could have three years from the date of your 18th birthday in order to make a claim if an adult has not previously done so on your behalf. In addition to this, individuals that have mental disabilities – both adults and minors – are typically exempted from the usual negligence time limit. If you have any queries regarding how long you have in order to make a medical malpractice claim, you could give our friendly and professional team a call and they would be happy to assist you.
It may be prudent for us to explain firstly, how calculations are made for any sort of claim. First and foremost, the severity of your injury, the symptoms you have experienced, how the injury is impacting your daily life, will be considered. To help you get a better understanding of the sort of payout you may receive, we have included a table below with figures from the Judicial College Guidelines, rather than incorporating a personal injury claims calculator.
|Injury||Details||Guideline payout amount|
|Chest injuries - Rib fracture||This payout bracket relates to soft tissue injuries and rib fractures that cause serious disability and pain over a matter of weeks only.||Up to £3,710|
|Chest injuries - Simple injuries||This payout bracket is for a relatively simple chest injury, for example, a single, penetrating wound, which causes no significant long-term effect on the lung function yet some permanent tissue damage.||£11,820 - £16,860|
|Chest injuries - The worst type of injury||This relates to extremely severe cases of permanent scarring and prolonged suffering and pain. The worst type of case will be of total removal of one lung and/or serious heart damage.||£94,470 - £140,870|
In addition to this, you may be able to claim for the expenses that are associated with your missed rib fracture. This could be anything from prescription expenses to the income you may have lost through being unable to work.
When making a claim of any nature, it could prove beneficial to opt for a lawyer that works on a No Win No Fee basis. This means that you would not require any funds in order to begin your medical negligence claim. Instead, the solicitor’s fees will usually be taken from the compensation that you are awarded. This would usually be a percentage of your payout, which you are going to agree on beforehand with your medical negligence solicitor – and this agreement would be documented in a Conditional Fee Agreement that you would need to sign before your case is launched. If compensation is not awarded, you would not need to pay the success fee to the medical negligence lawyer working on your claim.
We hope that you have found this information helpful when it comes to making a medical negligence claim for a missed fracture of the rib. If you have any further questions, or you are ready to begin the claim process, all you need to do is give us a call on 0800 652 3087. This line is open 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Alternatively, we have a live chat feature on our website, or you could request a callback about your misdiagnosed rib fracture, and we will ring you at a time that is convenient for you.
Rib Fractures And Chest Injury – This link will take you to an NHS leaflet that provides information on chest wall bruising, a fractured sternum, and fractured ribs.
Rib Injuries (Broken Or Bruised Ribs) – Here, you can find information on how to check whether you have a broken or bruised rib. It also reveals some things you can do to ease the pain you’re experiencing.
Fracture Management – NICE – Here, you can see the NICE guidelines on fracture management.
Claims Against A Private Hospital – Providing more information on hospital staff, their role, and claiming against them.
Medical Negligence Time Limit – This guide that we have put together provides further insight into the time limits that are in place when making a medical negligence claim.
Hospital Negligence – If you believe that hospital staff are to blame for your misdiagnosed fracture of the rib, this guide will be helpful to you, providing more information on hospital staff, their role, and claiming against them.
Written by Jo
Edited by LisM.