A fractured bone can impact any part of the body, including the neck, leg, hip and arm. Whether it’s due to a car accident, sports or a slip and fall, fractured bones vary in severity. The primary categories of fractures include displaced, non-displaced, open and closed. The first two terms refer to how the bone breaks. In a displaced fracture, the bone snaps in two or more areas. If it breaks in many pieces, it’s known as a comminuted fracture. In a closed fracture, there is no open wound in the skin. An open fracture is when the bone breaks through the skin. There’s much more risk of a bone infection with an open fracture. The severity of a fracture depends upon its location and the damage done to the bone and nearby tissue.
Complications Following a Fracture
Those who suffer from a bone fracture can incur additional injury if the treating doctor, hospital and clinic doesn’t administer proper medical care or if the fracture goes undiagnosed. Without proper patient instruction and treatment, there may be joint damage, neurological problems, concussion, narrowing of the bones and even permanent disability or paralysis.
The failure to diagnose a fracture is not an uncommon occurrence in hospital emergency rooms. An X-ray may not ordered by the nurse or doctor or even one improperly interpreted is negligence. If a fractured bone isn’t diagnosed, it can result in irreparable damage to the bone. It begins to heal without proper alignment. Because of the time delay in treatment, surgery may or may not be able to fix the problem. The failure to timely diagnose a fractured bone can give rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit. And the failure to refer a patient with a fractured bone to an orthopedic surgeon may also constitute negligence.
Negligence by an orthopedic surgeon can lead to fatal blood clots, nerve damage, blood vessel damage, infection, motor loss of function and more. The following may indicate negligence on behalf of an orthopedic surgeon:
- Failure to diagnose nerve impingement
- Improper placement of a replacement bone
- Improper placement of orthopedic hardware
- Improperly setting a bone
- Applying a cast too tightly, which can lead to compartment syndrome
- Misinterpretation of X-rays, CT scans and MRIs
Improper patient instruction is also an indication of medical malpractice. For example, if a patient with a repaired hip fracture isn’t warned to refrain from walking while the fracture is still healing and develops a permanent disability, the physician is liable. Physicians are also liable if they did not properly monitor the patient’s recovery.
The Elements of Negligence in a Malpractice Lawsuit
Like any other medical malpractice suit, the elements of negligence must clearly show in the case of lawsuit involving a fractured bone. These elements are duty of care, breach of duty, causation and damages. Establishing that the physician owed a duty of care in the patient-doctor relationship is first. The duty of care is the same level of care that a like doctor would’ve offered in the same situation. It must show that the doctor breached this duty. Often, this breach of duty coincides with testimony of another medical professional. Also, it must be medically shown that your damages were a direct result of the physician’s negligence. Claimants need to have proof of damages, such as verified lost wages, medical treatment expenses, partial or permanent disability or loss in earnings capacity.
Having an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney in Your Corner
It’s never wise to pursue a medical malpractice claim on your own. You can be sure that the physician’s or hospital’s insurance carrier will have a team of experience and aggressive attorneys to battle the validity of your claim. An experienced medical malpractice attorney helps level the playing field. These legal professionals know both the legal and medical terms to present your case accurately and effectively. Also, they can provide you with a team of medical experts to counter what the defendant’s expert witnesses say when giving testimony.
If you or a loved one has incurred negligence for medical treatment of a fractured bone, give us call for a free consultation. We’ll evaluate your case to determine if you have a case. Let our medical malpractice experience work for you.