There are 206 bones in an adult human skeleton. There are certain bones that are more prone to fracturing, particularly with certain activities or accidents. This can mean that Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments will report seasonal fractures or a high incidence of fracture types in particular locations.
Every year one person in 100 in the UK breaks a bone – about half the 20 million or so visits to A&E departments involve having an x-ray, mostly to check for bone injury.
If you have suffered as a result of a missed fracture because either the correct investigation was not carried out or this was not diagnosed by a medical professional and this led to further pain and suffering, you may be in a position to make a delayed diagnosis claim.
A timely diagnosis is essential to ensure that any victim of a fracture has the best chance of pain reduction and correct alignment of the fracture to assist the healing process.
Many hospitals will have systems in place that all x-rays performed in the A&E department are reviewed by a specialist – either a radiologist (a clinician specialising in radiology) or a specially trained radiographer but there are variable standards of turnaround of the written report across the country. As part of a drive to deliver better patient care the accurate evaluation of radiographic images at the time of acquisition in the A&E department is supported by the radiographer promoting flexible team work in a multiple disciplinary healthcare environment.
NICE guidelines recommend the specific views of plain radiographs to be taken for initial investigation of choice for trauma imaging. However, it can be technically difficult to obtain effective or adequate imaging in trauma patients.
Reasons for a missed fracture or delayed diagnosis
There are many reasons why this may occur including:
- Correct x-ray was not ordered
- detection of fracture or abnormality not easily visible due to image quality
- fracture is subtle or not visible on plain film
- failure to identify fracture on image(s)
- x-ray image or report not reviewed.
A delayed fracture diagnosis causes:
- Unnecessary prolonged pain and inconvenience
- high chance of poor alignment of healing bones
- reduced mobility / functional limitation
- compensatory adjustments of the body, particularly if the injured bone is weight bearing
- potential need for future complex surgery
- early onset of osteoarthritis or a stiff joint
- lengthy recovery period which may even be permanent.
If you would like to discuss making a claim for compensation as a result of fracture misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis or a failure to provide the recommended standard of care please call our Clinical and Medical Negligence lawyers on Freephone 0808 164 0808 for a FREE, no-obligation chat, or complete the request a call back form and we will call you.