There are many different types of traumatic ankle fractures you can suffer from an accident, fall, or some other injury to your ankle. If you have an ankle fracture that is missed in radiological studies such as X-Rays or CT scans, or if your doctor does not consider an ankle fracture when treating your injury, you may have a case of medical malpractice or negligence against them.
Some of the more common ankle fractures you can suffer are:
- Lateral malleolus fracture – a break of the lateral malleolus, the bone on the outside of the ankle joint. This bone is part of the fibula, one of two bones of the lower leg. You can see it as the bump on the outside of the ankle.
- Bimalleolar ankle fracture – breaks of both the lateral malleolus and of the medial malleolus or the end of the shin bone (tibia) that forms the support for the inner side of the ankle joint. The medial malleolus can be seen as the bump on the inside of the ankle in the lower portion of the tibia.
- Trimalleolar ankle fracture – breaks in three sides of the ankle: the medial malleolus of the tibia, as well as the lateral malleolus and posterior malleolus (the back of the tibia at the level of the ankle joint).
- Pilon fracture or plafond fracture – a fracture through the weight-bearing top of the ankle (the central portion of the lower tibia).
There are other less common fractures you can suffer, such as a calcaneus fracture. This is a fracture of the heel bone that typically happens from a fall from higher up, such as off a ladder.
How Do You Know If You Have a Medical Negligence Claim From A Missed Ankle Fracture Resulting In Delayed Treatment?
First, it will have to be determined who missed it. Sometimes it can be a radiologist who missed an ankle fracture they should have seen in radiology studies like an X-Ray. In that scenario, your attorney will consult with radiology experts to see if the ankle fracture is something a reasonably careful and competent radiologist should have seen.
In other instances, it may be the fault of the doctor who first treated you for your ankle fracture. For example, if you go to the ER and you have clear signs and symptoms of an ankle fracture, but the physician that treats you does not consider an ankle fracture, or does not order imaging studies to rule out an ankle fracture, then that doctor could be liable for the delayed treatment to your ankle fracture. Or that ER physician could order the wrong type of imaging studies to rule out the type of ankle fracture you likely suffered, making it more difficult for the radiologist to catch it. An example would be if you fell from a ladder from about 8 feet up onto your ankle. Given a fall from this height, the doctor that treats you should consider an ankle fracture, specifically a calcaneus ankle fracture. If they do not consider that fracture or do not order calcaneus studies, they could be liable for problems you have as a result of delayed treatment of that fracture.
Alternatively, there could be a claim against both the doctor you first worked with for your ankle fracture and the radiologist who reviews any imaging studies of your ankle. This will all depend on the facts of your case and what your attorney’s consulting medical experts believe.
Do You Have A Medical Malpractice Case?
Just because your ankle fracture was both missed and should have been caught does not mean you have a medical malpractice case though. It also depends on what type of harm was caused as a result of that miss.
For example, if your ankle fracture was diagnosed soon after it was missed, it makes it less likely that your outcome would have been very different if it was diagnosed a little earlier. Meaning the treatment, and how you do with that treatment, would not have changed much due to the short delay. If there is a lengthy delay between the fracture and ultimate diagnosis, this could lead to the build-up of arthritis and the need for major surgery, such as fusion surgery, you may not have needed if your fracture was diagnosed earlier. If you are able to prove that an earlier diagnosis of your ankle fracture would have avoided the major and debilitating surgery you now need, you likely will have a case for the misdiagnosis of your ankle fracture.
Another question that will have to be answered is whether, given the severity of the fracture, you would have needed major surgery and had similar outcomes regardless of the delay in diagnosis. This again all depends on the facts and medicine of your case.
It will also be important to show other harms you suffered as a result of delayed treatment. For example, you may have lost a job that requires you to be on your feet all the time and mobile, or you may have medical bills that need to be covered. Or you may have other hobbies and interests that you can now not do due to a lack of mobility from the delayed treatment and subsequent major surgery.
The Thistle Law Firm is experienced in handling cases of missed ankle fractures. If you believe your ankle fracture was missed as a result of medical malpractice or negligence and you suffered harm as a result, the attorneys at the Thistle Law Firm is here to take your call at 215-568-6800.