How Was My Fracture Missed? Reasons Why You May Have A Malpractice Claim For A Missed Fracture.

If you suffered a fracture to an area of your body that was missed, with all the advances in medical technology and imaging today, you may wonder how that could happen and does that mean you have a medical malpractice claim for a missed fracture. There are a variety of reasons as to why a fracture is not timely diagnosed and treated. There are also various factors at play in determining if you have a claim for a missed fracture such as: the degree of negligence in missing the fracture, how long the delay was in treating your fracture due to the miss, and any change in outcome you have with that fracture due to the delayed diagnosis.

One reason a fracture can be missed is a failure of whatever doctor is treating you to consider a fracture and order the correct imaging studies to rule out a fracture. Very often this can occur in the emergency room setting of a hospital. If you suffered an injury to an area of your body that could indicate a fracture – such as a high impact injury from a vehicle collision or a fall from a great height – and a fracture is not considered or there is a failure to order proper imaging to rule out a fracture, you may have a malpractice claim for failing to diagnose that fracture. This is especially so if you have complaints and symptoms that indicate a fracture.

Another factor that will increase the likelihood that there was negligence in missing your fracture is if you return to the same medical provider or hospital multiple times with ongoing unresolved complaints and a fracture continues to not be considered, diagnosed, or treated.

In some instances imaging, usually X-Rays but sometimes CT scans, are done but a fracture in the imaging was missed. This may be because the interpreting radiologist missed the fracture when reviewing your imaging. Whether the radiologist should have been able to see the fracture and was negligent in missing it depends on the imaging and how obvious it was that a fracture was present. Your attorney will consult with radiology experts to help determine this. One possible indication a clear fracture was missed is if subsequent treating doctors review the same imaging and can easily see a fracture.

Another instance of potential negligence is when a radiologist suspects a fracture, recommends more imaging to rule out the fracture, and that recommendation is disregarded by your attending doctor. If this happens it is usually in the hospital but not always. In some instances, the interpreting radiologist may see a fracture but your attending doctor who ordered the imaging will fail to tell you that you had a fracture on imaging that needs treatment. This can be confirmed by getting your medical records and looking at your discharge instructions and diagnoses, as well as radiology reports. 

Even if there was negligence in missing your fracture it still must be determined if the miss and delay in treatment changed your outcome. The length in delay can be a factor in whether your outcome changed. Typically, the longer the delay is in diagnosing and treating your fracture, the more likely it is that your outcome changed. However, this is not always the case as sometimes a short delay can have a significant change in outcome and sometimes a long delay has no change in outcome. It all depends on the type of fracture you have. For example a short delay in diagnosing and treating a fracture to your spine can have a much larger change in your outcome than a longer delay in diagnosing a rib fracture.

A common change in your treatment that occurs due to a delayed fracture diagnosis is now needing surgery to repair your fracture – whereas with timely diagnosis and stabilization you could have avoided surgery. You could also have ongoing pain and issues with the fracture even after surgery which could have been avoided. One way you can determine if a fracture could have avoided surgical treatment is if the fracture went from being non-displaced to displaced. This means the ends of the bone that fractured are now out of alignment. You can show a delay in treatment caused your fracture to become displaced through imaging. For example, X-Rays showing a missed fracture was not displaced when it was missed, and later imaging showing at the time your fracture was diagnosed it was now displaced.

There are other complications you can suffer from a delay in treatment of your fracture such as an increased risk of arthritis or blood flow issues that can have major impacts. This will all depend on the facts of your case and type of fracture you suffered. If you cannot prove that your outcome was changed much, if at all, from the delay in treatment of your fracture then you may not have a claim.

The change in outcome you can experience from delayed fracture treatment is not just the change in your medical treatment, but how your daily life is affected and changed. You may have to miss an extensive amount of time from work, not be as active, and not be able to do certain activities or hobbies you enjoy.

Whether or not you have a claim for a missed fracture will depend on the facts of your case, a review of your records and imaging, and consultation with medical experts. The Thistle Law Firm is experienced at handling missed fracture cases. If you had a fracture that was missed and feel you may have a malpractice claim as a result, the attorneys at The Thistle Law Firm are here  to take your call at 215-568-6800.

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