If you have ever suffered from a broken bone, you know that the pain is intense and can interfere with normal mobility, activity, concentration, and even sleep. Even the smallest bone fracture can interrupt your life, while larger and more complex breaks can be even more dramatic, causing more pain and taking longer to heal.
A doctor’s failure to diagnose a broken leg properly can cause irreparable damage that could have been prevented were it not for their medical negligence. A delayed diagnosis of a broken leg will not only prevent the bone from healing properly, but it can also cause constant pain, limit your movement, and result in permanent damage, taking a significant toll on your life.
Following an accident, a patient arriving at a Pennsylvania emergency room, urgent care center, or doctor’s office with a leg injury must be accurately and completely evaluated by the medical staff. As part of that evaluation, the medical professionals are expected to diagnose fractures and commence appropriate and timely treatment. A failure to do so may result in surgical mistakes or errors when fixing the leg. Long-lasting damage could open the medical staff and the facility up to a medical malpractice claim.
How is a Broken Leg Diagnosed?
Often, a doctor or hospital will diagnose a broken leg using x-rays. The decision to order x-rays following an accident involving a leg injury is usually based on the cause and any signs or symptoms the victim displays.
Signs and symptoms of a broken leg may include:
- difficulty walking
- a deformity or shortening of the leg
However, regardless of the signs and symptoms, any accident victim who suffers a significant impact on their leg should have x-rays to rule out a leg fracture. In many cases of broken leg misdiagnosis, the x-ray was never performed at all because medical staff failed to order x-rays for the patient. In cases where an x-ray was completed, but the broken leg was missed, the radiologist could have missed the fracture or misdiagnosed it as some other type of injury.
What Happens When a Broken Leg is Missed or Misdiagnosed?
In cases where a broken leg is missed or misdiagnosed, the leg injury goes untreated. Unfortunately, a fractured leg misdiagnosis can go unnoticed throughout several doctor visits. It is not uncommon for a doctor to have multiple chances to get a diagnosis right and still miss it. When this happens, the bone will heal independently without the appropriate placement, this is known as a nonunion. An improperly healed nonunion is called a delayed union. When these occur and the bones do not align properly, surgery is needed to reset the fracture and align it properly. If the fracture had been diagnosed and properly treated from the beginning, surgery could have been avoided. The standard treatment for a broken leg involves setting it and immobilizing it with a splint. An unstable or displaced fracture usually requires surgery to set the leg properly. Even with delayed surgery, substantial and long-term damage can occur, which would have otherwise been avoided had the medical malpractice not occurred.
Can a Broken Leg Misdiagnosis lead to a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Pennsylvania?
A broken leg misdiagnosis can be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit in Pennsylvania. Whether an ER physician or any other medical professional fails to correctly diagnose or the radiologist misreads the x-ray, any interruption in treating a broken leg will cause substantial harm. The failure to refer an accident victim with a broken leg to a specialist, such as an orthopedic surgeon, may also be grounds for medical negligence or medical malpractice claims.
A bone break can be expensive. On top of medical costs, the inability to work can result in a loss of income during recovery. If a doctor misdiagnoses your broken leg, it becomes more expensive as you pay for surgery, physical therapy, and additional out-of-work time that could have been avoided if your broken leg had been properly diagnosed. In extreme cases, a misdiagnosed broken leg can result in a permanent disability.
When combined with an inability to manage household chores, childcare, or even personal care, the financial repercussions can be just as debilitating as the physical pain and emotional trauma. If a doctor’s negligence resulted in a misdiagnosed broken leg, you might be entitled to compensation.
If you or a loved one suspect that there was medical negligence in the treatment of your broken leg, you should immediately contact an experienced Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney to discuss your options. If there is evidence of negligence on the part of the medical staff that treated your leg injury, the attorney will consult with medical experts to determine whether or not the doctor or medical staff deviated from the standard of care in their treatment.
The broken bone attorneys at Thistle Law Firm are experienced in managing claims of misdiagnosed fractures. If you believe that you were misdiagnosed or that there was a delay in the treatment of your broken leg, the attorneys at the Thistle Law Firm are here to take your call and answer your questions at 215-525-6824.