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How The Misdiagnosis Of A Fracture Can Lead To Medical Negligence Compensation

View profile for Sylvia Taylor
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The scaphoid is one of the bones located at the base of the thumb.  A fracture of the scaphoid bone usually occurs as a result of a fall onto an outstretched hand.

The usual medical procedure is to examine the wrist and hand.  In all wrist injuries the doctor should check an area known as the anatomical snuff box for tenderness and also the scaphoid tubercle to see if there may be a scaphoid fracture. 

The presence of scaphoid tenderness mandates that scaphoid x-rays should be requested.  The reason for this is that a standard x-ray may not pick up all scaphoid fractures.  Nevertheless, not all scaphoid fractures can be seen on the initial x-rays and often do not show up until around 10-14 days after the initial injury.  It is, therefore, mandatory to immobilise the wrist, usually in a splint with arrangements to review after 10-14 days.  Further x-rays of the scaphoid bone should then be taken.  Sometimes it is still not clear whether there is a scaphoid fracture.  If this is the case then a CT scan or MRI scan should be considered.

If a non-displaced scaphoid fracture is confirmed on x-ray, or is suspected, it is usually treated by putting the arm in a plaster cast up to the elbow.  This is usually fitted for 6-12 weeks until the scaphoid bone heals.  In some cases it may be needed for longer. 

If a scaphoid fracture is displaced then surgery may be necessary.  A small screw or a special pin is inserted into the scaphoid bone to hold the bone fragments together in the correct position.

Problems can arise when there is a failure to properly diagnose a fracture.  Over the years, we have been contacted by a number of clients, who have gone to their GP after a number of months, complaining that the injured wrist is not improving.  The GP will usually arrange an x-ray, which shows evidence of a scaphoid fracture.  As there will usually be evidence of non-union, often the only option is to undergo surgery, which may involve a bone graft to help the fracture heal.  This can increase the risk of the patient developing osteoarthritis in the future and can also result in limitation of movement of the wrist.

If you think you may have suffered a delay in the treatment of a medical condition don't hesitate to get in touch for a free consultation or use our quick and easy online personal injury calculator for a quick estimate of how much compensation your could receive.