A misdiagnosed fracture in your leg can cause irreparable damage that should never have occurred. The delay in an accurate diagnosis can prevent the bone from healing properly and cause constant pain, limit movement, permanent issues with your ambulation (walking), and substantial alteration of your lifestyle.
When a patient arrives at an emergency room, urgent care center, or doctor’s office with an injury, the medical staff must completely and accurately evaluate the medical condition. This includes not only diagnosing the fracture, but commencing appropriate and timely treatment. Failure to do so can even lead to surgical mistakes or errors when fixing the leg.
How Does A Doctor Or Hospital Determine You Have A Fractured Leg?
In most situations, an x-ray will diagnose a fracture in your leg. The method of injury or the signs and symptoms you are complaining of can indicate whether an X-Ray should be ordered. Signs and symptoms of a broken leg include swelling, difficulty walking, bruising, tenderness, and a deformity or shortening of the leg. However, as stated earlier, regardless of the signs and symptoms, if you are complaining of an accident that resulted in significant force to your leg an X-Ray should be ordered to rule out a fracture. Sometimes though an x-ray is never performed because the medical staff fails to order an x-ray. Other times, the radiologist misses the fracture in your leg or misdiagnose it as something else.
When a broken leg is missed or misdiagnosed, it will go untreated. Unfortunately this misdiagnosis can happen after many visits with your treating doctor, with the doctor getting multiple chances to get the diagnosis right and still missing it. As a result, the bone heals on its own without appropriate placement. This is called a nonunion. A nonunion that heals improperly is called a delayed union. Likewise the injury can worsen by putting unnecessary pressure on it.
When a nonunion or delayed union happens and the bones are not properly aligned, surgery is needed to reset the fracture so it is aligned normally. Had the condition been diagnosed and treated initially, however, it may only have needed to be casted. The typical treatment for a broken leg involves setting it and immobilizing it with a splint. No other surgery may be required if you receive the correct diagnosis and timely treatment. If you have an unstable or displaced fracture surgery will likely be required so the leg sets in the proper position. Even with delayed surgery, substantial damage could have been done that could otherwise have been avoided.
Can The Misdiagnosis Of A Broken Or Fractured Leg Lead To A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
The misdiagnosis of a broken leg can give rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit. If the emergency room physician or any professional medical staff fails to make the correct diagnosis or a radiologist misreads an x-ray film, the interruption in treatment can cause substantial damage to the patient. Failure to refer a patient with a broken leg to a specialist such as an orthopedic surgeon can also be considered negligent medical care and grounds for a lawsuit.
In order to determine whether there was negligence in the treatment of your broken leg, you will need an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to review your medical records and talk to you about what happened. Then if he or she believes that negligence occurred that attorney will consult with experts in the same specialty as the doctor that missed the leg fracture to confirm whether the doctor deviated from the standard of care in their treatment.
The Thistle Law Firm is experienced in handling claims of misdiagnosed fractures. If you believe that your broken leg was misdiagnosed or there was a delay in treatment, the attorneys at the Thistle Law Firm are here to take your call and answer your questions at 215-525-6824.