By Daniel Boimler. Last Updated 4th November 2022. If you attend your GP surgery or A&E because you’re in pain, you hope that the medical professionals will be able to diagnose your condition, treat it and ease the pain.
In the majority of cases, that’s exactly what happens but, in some cases, mistakes do happen. In this guide, we’re going to look at when a fractured shoulder blade (scapula) is missed. We’ll look at when missed scapula compensation claims can be made, who might be liable and what amount of compensation might be paid.
The team at Medical Negligence Assist are committed to helping anybody who’s considering a compensation claim. We offer free legal advice on claiming as well as a no obligation assessment of your claim. Should you have grounds to claim compensation, we could introduce you to one of our panel of medical negligence solicitors who work on a No Win No Fee basis for all claims they handle.
If you’re in a position to begin your claim already, please call us on 0800 652 3087 right away. Alternatively, to find out more about claiming for a misdiagnosed shoulder blade fracture, please continue reading.
Choose A Section
- A Guide To Missed Scapula Fracture Compensation Claims
- What Is A Missed Shoulder Blade Fracture?
- Causes Of Missed Scapula Fracture Diagnosis
- Causes Of Fractured Shoulder Blades
- Signs And Symptoms Of A Fractured Scapula
- How Are Scapula Fractures Diagnosed Or Treated?
- Could I Have Grounds To Claim Compensation?
- Missed Scapula Fracture Claims Against A GP
- Missed Scapula Fracture Claims Against A Hospital
- What Are My Rights As A Patient Under NHS Care?
- Medical Negligence Compensation Claim Time Limits
- Missed Scapula/ Shoulder Blade Fracture Compensation Calculator
- Fractured Scapula – No Win No Fee Claims
- Start A Claim
- Supporting Resources
A scapula bone is one of rarer bones that can be fractured in the human body, but also one of the most painful. Regardless of the cause, if the injury is not diagnosed correctly at the first opportunity, the patient can end up suffering for longer than they need to have. Also, if scapula fracture treatment doesn’t begin promptly, the bone may not heal correctly and could cause pain and suffering in the long-term. Therefore, we’re going to look at when you could claim compensation because your scapula fracture was missed by a medical professional.
We’ll review why a fracture might be missed, who might be responsible and when you could ask a solicitor to make a medical negligence claim on your behalf. We talk about NHS negligence that could lead to a claim but it’s important to note that you could also sue a private medical facility if they missed the fracture as well.
Here are some of the questions we’ll try to answer:
- How long does it take for a scapular fracture to heal?
- How do you fix a broken scapula?
- What happens if you break your scapula?
- How do you sleep with a broken scapula?
When you’ve finished reading the guide, if you have any questions that remain unanswered, please call a member of our team. They specialise in helping people begin compensation claims and they offer free advice on doing so. Should your claim have a strong chance of being won, they could introduce you to a personal injury solicitor from our panel to take your claim on.
What Is A Missed Shoulder Blade Fracture?
The scapula is the large triangular bone at the top of the back which connects to the clavicle (collarbone) and humerus to form the shoulder joint. It is more commonly known as the shoulder blade.
The scapula fracture classification includes:
- Acromial fractures
- Glenoid fractures
- Coracoid fractures
- Scapular neck fractures
- Scapular body fractures
- Scapulothoracic dissociation
When we talk about a missed shoulder blade fracture, we could be talking about any of the above which, after an assessment by a medical practitioner, was not spotted. This could be grounds for filing a medical negligence claim against the party responsible.
Causes Of Missed Scapula Fracture Diagnosis
GPs and doctors in accident and emergency departments are trained for years before entering the service. Their training involves methods for diagnosing many different ailments and injuries, including broken bones. Even with all that training though, it’s possible for a broken or fractured bone to be missed. Some of the reasons could be classed as medical negligence and might mean you’re entitled to claim compensation for any suffering caused by the error of a medical professional.
Here are some potential reasons for a misdiagnosed scapula fracture:
- Inexperienced doctors not checking their findings with senior colleagues
- GPs diagnosing the condition as something else and failing to refer for an X-ray
- Obstructions on the X-ray meaning the fracture isn’t immediately visible
- A doctor in A&E failing to request an X-ray. This might be due to a busy department placing time pressure on consultations
The problem with a misdiagnosis of this kind is that the bone might not be aligned, and this could mean the different parts of the bone don’t bond together properly. This may mean the lack of proper treatment could cause the patient to suffer pain and discomfort for many years to come.
Causes Of Fractured Shoulder Blades
There are many different types of accident that could cause a fracture scapula. In most cases, there will be some form of high-energy, blunt force trauma to the shoulder region. It’s not uncommon for shoulder fractures to be accompanied by other major injuries.
The types of accident that could lead to a fracture of the shoulder blade include:
- Road traffic accidents
- Falling from height
- Heavy items falling from height
- Falls where the arms are placed out in front to break the fall
Remember, although you could claim against somebody else who caused your accident to happen through negligence, in this guide we’re looking at claims for additional suffering caused by the misdiagnosis of a scapula fracture by a medical professional.
Signs And Symptoms Of A Fractured Scapula
Following an accident, you may suffer some of the symptoms of a broken scapula. In most cases, you’ll probably be advised to visit a hospital or your GP for an examination. Some of the more common symptoms that could be present include:
- Extreme pain in the shoulder area
- Swelling on the back of the shoulder
- Pain when attempting to move the arm
- The arm or shoulder looking misaligned or deformed
As mentioned earlier, the types of accident that cause a broken shoulder blade can lead to a number of other serious injuries. Therefore, the symptoms of the shoulder injury could be masked and not noticed straight away. That’s why a thorough assessment by a doctor is important. If the doctor notices any of the signs listed above, an X-ray should be performed to determine the presence of a fracture.
How Are Scapula Fractures Diagnosed Or Treated?
To assess whether you’ve fractured your shoulder, your doctor will:
- Examine you physically
- Check the alignment and position of the shoulder
- Send you for an X-ray to determine the site of any fracture
In most cases, the scapula fracture will not require surgery. Instead, a sling will be used for the first 3-weeks to allow the soft tissues of the shoulder to heal. Painkillers will usually be prescribed to ease the pain of the injury.
In the first 3-weeks the sling will need to be used at all times, even when sleeping. It can help to prop yourself up in bed with additional pillows to ease the discomfort. After the sling is removed, you may be able to begin light activities but the whole healing process can take between 6 and 12 weeks in total.
Some scapula fractures will require surgery. These include:
- Where the glenoid articular surface is displaced
- Fractures at the neck of the scapula
- Fractures of the acromion process which cause the arm to hit against it
The surgery will be carried out under general anaesthetic. It will require the bones to be re-positioned. The different parts of the bone would need to be secured with pins, plates and screws so that the bone can heal itself properly.
Could I Have Grounds To Claim Compensation?
To make any type of medical negligence claim, there are a number of things you’ll need to prove. This can be tricky and it’s why we advise claimants to have a specialist representing them. To claim compensation, your solicitor will need to prove:
- That there was a breach of duty. This means that a medical professional has performed treatment at a lower standard than could be reasonably expected of a competent medical professional
- Then they need to show that the patient was made ill, was injured or that they suffered in some way
- Finally, it needs to be proven that the suffering was down to the breach of duty. This is known as causation
It’s important to note at this point that you can’t simply claim for a breach of duty. It must have caused you some form of suffering. This means that even if a doctor has performed substandard treatment, you wouldn’t be able to claim compensation if there was no adverse medical effect.
Missed Scapula Fracture Claims Against A GP
Your GP is often the first point of contact within the NHS. It’s true that they are usually very busy and will only have a small amount of time to assess, diagnose and treat each patient. However, in most cases, they manage to get things right and treat the patient correctly. In some cases, though, mistakes can happen, and it could lead to their patient suffering as a result.
If your GP reads the symptoms wrong, you won’t receive treatment for a scapula fracture. This could cause your symptoms to get worse and your suffering to increase. If that happens, you might be eligible to claim compensation from your GP for medical malpractice.
Missed Scapula Fracture Claims Against A Hospital
In a hospital, your scapular fracture symptoms are most likely to be assessed within the accident & emergency department. As with your GP, a doctor should assess your injury to determine the course of action. If they fail to diagnose a broken scapula, then you might be able to claim compensation for any suffering caused. Some of the reasons a misdiagnosis might occur include:
- Failure to ask for an X-ray because the doctor read the symptoms incorrectly
- When the doctor fails to spot the scapula fracture on the X-ray
- If your assessment was rushed due to staff shortages
- An inexperienced doctor failed to check their diagnosis with a more senior colleague
Whatever the reason for an undiagnosed scapula fracture, if it has caused you any form of additional suffering, you could seek compensation from the hospital. Please call to discuss your case with a specialist adviser.
What Are My Rights As A Patient Under NHS Care?
The NHS has a constitution for patients in England which provides them with a number of rights. These include:
- The right to register with a GP when you live in their catchment area
- A right to receive treatment (but not necessarily from your own GP)
- An out of hours service when the GP is off duty. This could be another GP, a locum or a telephone-based system
- There is no automatic right for a home visit. Your GP may offer one though if they determine your medical condition warrants one
- Also, you might be surprised to know that you don’t have an automatic right to a second opinion. You can ask for one, but the doctor may refuse if they believe there’s no need for one
- NHS patients who live in the UK are entitled to treatment for free
- Hospital treatment, other than emergency treatment, must be arranged by a GP. You can’t receive treatment without a referral
- You have the right to choose any specific consultant to carry out hospital treatment if a GP agrees that they are clinically suitable
- There is a maximum waiting list time. If you are on the list for too long, you are entitled to ask the Clinical Commissioning Group to provide you with a list of alternative options
Medical Negligence Compensation Claim Time Limits
As with any compensation claim, a misdiagnosed scapula fracture must be made within the personal injury claims time limit. In a normal claim, you’d have 3-years to begin from the date of the accident that caused the fracture.
However, in missed scapula fracture compensation claims, the date will begin from the date the fracture is finally diagnosed. This could be some time later depending on how long it took for the misdiagnosis to be spotted.
Missed Scapula/ Shoulder Blade Fracture Compensation Calculator
When we discuss NHS negligence claims, the conversation often moves on to how much compensation can be awarded. In reality, every case is unique, and the amount of compensation will differ depending how the claimant was affected. While we can’t provide an exact estimate for you broken shoulder blade claim, we can show you the personal injury claims compensation table below.
It contains information on compensation paid for different injuries. The figures come from a legal article called the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This compensation is known as general damages and is used to cover the pain and suffering caused by your injuries.
|£19,200 to £48,030
|The injuries within this bracket are often associated with neck injuries and there's usually damage to the brachail plexus.
|£12,770 to £19,200
|Injuries included are a shoulder dislocation or damage to the lower brachial plexus resulting in pain in the shoulder and neck. There will be some movement restriction.
|£7,890 to £12,770
|This bracket covers frozen shoulder injuries that lead to discomfort and limited movement for about 2 years.
|£4,350 to £7,890
|Soft tissue damage which causes pain but almost full recover occurs in less than 2 years.
|£2,450 to £4,350
|Soft tissue damage which causes pain but almost full recover occurs in around a year.
|Up to £2,450
|Soft tissue damage which causes pain but almost full recover occurs in less than 3 months.
|£5,150 to £12,240
|The amount paid will be determined by the extent of the fracture, any residual symptoms, the level of disability and whether the injury is permanent or not.
As well as general damages, your solicitor can include a number of ‘special damages’ within your claim. These are used to cover any financial costs you’ve incurred as a result of your injuries. They can include:
- Medical costs
- Care costs
- Travelling expenses
- Lost earnings
- Future loss of earnings
- Personal property damage
To claim for special damages, you’ll need to keep hold of receipts to help substantiate your claim. If you’re unsure whether you’ll be able to claim something back, we’d advise checking with your solicitor before you commit to the expense.
If a medical professional has failed to correctly diagnose your fractured scapula, then you could be owed compensation if you experienced pain and suffering as a result. For a scapula fracture, treatment may be required – the lack of which could lead to further complications.
Hiring a solicitor could help you through the misdiagnosed scapula fracture claims process. However, if you’re worried about how much a solicitor may cost you, it may be helpful to know that all of the solicitors on our panel can work with you on a No Win No Fee basis.
If you’re eligible, this means that they take a legally capped percentage from your compensation once a successful claim has concluded. If your claim for a missed broken scapula fails, you will not pay them for their services.
Get in touch today to learn more about No Win No Fee medical negligence solicitors.
Now that you’ve completed our guide on missed scapula fractures, we hope you’d like to begin a claim with Medical Negligence Assist. If so, you can contact us using any of the following methods:
- Call one of our friendly advisers on 0800 652 3087
- Ask us to call you back by completing our online claims form
- Or connect to a member of our claims team using the live chat facility
When you get in touch to discuss your medical negligence claim our team will assess it and provide free advice about your options. There’s no obligation to proceed at this point and you won’t be put under any pressure to do so. When your evidence has been reviewed, you could be reviewed to a personal injury lawyer on our panel. If they agree to take your claim on, it’ll be on a No Win No Fee basis.
Our panel of solicitors have plenty of history working on clinical negligence claims, some of them have over 30 years’ experience. They’ll always keep you up to date throughout the claims process and will work as quickly as possible to try and avoid causing delays. They will always aim to try and ensure that you receive the highest amount of compensation possible for your injuries.
Please call today to discuss whether we could help you claim for you misdiagnosed fracture of the scapula.
Thanks for reading our guide about missed scapula compensation claims. In case you need any further information, we’ve provided some more of our guides below. We’ve also linked to some external resources as well.
Scapula Fracture (NHS) – This leaflet from the NHS explains the treatment for scapula fractures and the recovery plan.
Frozen Shoulder – An NHS guide about frozen shoulder and how it’s treated.
Broken Bones – This guide advises you how to work out if you’ve broken a bone.
Misdiagnosis Claims – A guide that explains when a medical negligence lawyer could help you claim for suffering caused by a misdiagnosis.
Claims Against Hospitals – Information on when you could make a personal injury claim against a hospital caused by medical negligence.
GP Negligence Compensation Claims – This guide could help you claim if a GP missed a shoulder blade fracture.
Other Misdiagnosis Claim Guides
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Article by BH