Misdiagnosis – Fracture
Fracture Misdiagnosis - Medical Malpractice Attorney, Sacramento County
Malory was an active woman in her mid-50s. One morning, while walking up the stairs, she tripped and landed squarely on her wrist. Experiencing immediate pain, Malory was driven to her primary care physician for a diagnosis. She was seen by a physician assistant (P.A.), who had the receptionist take a single x-ray of her wrist. The single x-ray was interpreted as normal and Malory was sent home without a brace. Malory had two follow-up visits with the P.A. and complained of consistent pain and swelling in her wrist. No further x-rays were taken. Four months pass and the pain in Malory's wrist gets worst, radiating to her arm. She finally decides to get a second opinion and is referred to an orthopedist. The orthopedist takes three x-rays of her wrist and immediately notes a fracture of the distal radius that was completely displaced as well as a separate fracture of the ulnar styloid process. He attempts wrist surgery, but unfortunately because the break occurred so many months prior, he was unable to correct it. Due to this misdiagnosis, Malory has to manage wrist and arm pain and is limited in the exercises she can perform.
The above scenario is based on a true story and provides a great example of the harm that can come from a misdiagnosis of a fracture. Medical malpractice lawsuits result from a vast variety of negligent or careless mistakes from doctors, nurses, or a medical center. A misdiagnosis such as this one can cause irreparable damage that otherwise would have not occurred.
When a patient arrives at a hospital emergency room with a bone fracture, the medical emergency room staff must completely and accurately evaluate their medical condition. This includes not only diagnosing the fracture but commencing appropriate treatment as well.
In most situations, a regular x-ray will properly diagnose the bone fracture. Often times, however, an x-ray is never performed because the medical staff fails to order a radiology study. Other times, the radiologist may be the one to misdiagnose the bone fracture as something else on the x-ray.
A misdiagnosis of a bone fracture can result in substantial injury and obstacles for the patient. When a fracture is misdiagnosed, it most often goes untreated. As a result, the bone begins to heal on its own without appropriate placement. This is called a nonunion. A nonunion that does go on to heal improperly is known as a delayed union.
When a nonunion or delayed union happens and the bones are not properly aligned, surgery is frequently required to repair the fracture. Had the condition been diagnosed and treated initially, however, it may only have needed to be casted. Even with surgery, substantial damage could have been done that could otherwise have been totally avoided.
The misdiagnosis of a bone fracture can give rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit. If the emergency room physician or any professional medical staffer 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. Furthermore, failure to refer a patient with broken bones to an orthopedic surgeon can also be considered negligent medical care and grounds for a lawsuit.
Medical malpractice of any sort is hard to handle in many ways. The financial responsibility of medical bills, lost wages and healing time can be astronomical but the emotional toll of being let down by a trusted medical professional can be far worse.
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If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to a misdiagnosis, please call us at the Law Offices of Moseley Collins. Moseley specializes in winning medical malpractice cases in the cities of Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Palm Springs. He has over 32 years of experience and has recently won a medical malpractice case that resulted in the largest settlement of its kind in the history of California. Call Moseley today for help.
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