Semi-professional rugby player hangs up boots following delay in diagnosis of a scaphoid fracture

07 August 2020

Our client, then aged 25-years-old, was a scaffolder and semi-professional rugby player, when his left hand was forcefully knocked back whilst playing rugby. After the game, he took some painkillers for moderate pain in his left hand.
Semi professional rugby player hangs up boots following delay in diagnosis of a scaphoid fracture

The following morning, he noticed swelling around his left wrist and the area of his hand near the base of his thumb was very painful. He went to the A&E Department of his local hospital in Birmingham. His hand was examined by a nurse and doctor, before he was sent for standard x-rays. The x-rays did not identify a fracture. Our client was diagnosed with a suspected sprain to his wrist and discharged home the same day, with a removable wrist brace. He was advised take a few weeks off work to rest whilst the sprain healed. No follow-up appointment was provided.

Our client returned to work and to playing rugby a few weeks later, as advised by the A&E doctor. However, he continued to suffer pain and discomfort in his left wrist, making his work and playing rugby more difficult. He had to change his playing position from a forward to playing in the back row as his painful wrist was preventing him from binding-on in a scrum.

The pain and discomfort in our client’s left wrist became an everyday part of his life, which he learnt to live with.

Around three years after his wrist injury, our client injured a different part of his left hand whilst at work. He went to the A&E Department of a different hospital, where his left hand was once again examined and x-rays were taken due to his symptoms of pain. To our client’s surprise, he was advised by the doctor that the x-rays had identified an older, unhealed, fracture near the base of his left thumb. He was referred to a specialist hand surgeon, who diagnosed a scaphoid fracture.

Unfortunately, the damage from the old untreated scaphoid fracture was such that our client now required salvage surgery, known as partial or total wrist fusion surgery. This type of surgery involves fixing (or fusing) the bones in your wrist to the bones in your hand, stopping the movement between them in order to reduce pain. Partial or total wrist fusion surgery is usually suggested when the wrist is badly damaged. While the operation can get rid of pain and increase strength, it usually stops up and down movement of the wrist.

Sadly, our client was advised to give up playing rugby due to the risk of further injury.

At the time, our client had a young family and was unable to take time off work for his surgery and recovery.

Our client sought legal advice and instructed Sumit Morjaria, a solicitor in the medical negligence team at Shoosmiths, to pursue a claim against the hospital for a delay in diagnosing and treating the scaphoid fracture.

With the support of expert evidence, it was claimed that with appropriate treatment, our client’s scaphoid fracture would have healed, and he would have regained good pain-free left wrist and hand function within 12 weeks of his injury.

The claim was successful and resulted in a significant out of court settlement for our client.

The compensation obtained for our client included damages for pain and suffering, future loss of earnings, the past and future care and domestic costs, and the costs of salvage surgery at a specialist private hospital.



This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024

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