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Undiagnosed & Missed Fractures

The later a fracture is diagnosed, the more likely it is that a patient will suffer from additional pain and difficulty with healing. These problems are best avoided by correct and timely diagnosis and treatment.


A failure or a delay in diagnosis of a fracture can result in stress being placed on the fracture when it should be kept immobile which may result in the fracture failing to unite, becoming displaced or healing in the wrong position. This can lead to further injury and the need for more extensive treatment and surgery and a longer recovery period. There is also an increased risk of longer term problems.</p>

Identifying and treating fractures in children is particularly important as failure to do so can affect the growth of the bone, which left untreated can have serious consequences.

There are many reasons why fractures are missed. The doctor or nurse practitioner may fail to request an x-ray or the x-ray image may be mis-interpreted by the doctor and/or the radiologist.

Fractures to a bone in the hand called the scaphoid, which often occurs as a result of a fall onto an outstretched hand, are one of the most commonly missed fractures. These fractures can be difficult to diagnose shortly after the fall because of swelling.  If a scaphoid fracture is suspected the wrist/hand should be properly x-rayed and reviewed again in 10 to 14 days and if symptoms remain a further x-ray should be performed. If this is not done and a fracture is missed this may be negligent.  A failure to appropriately treat a scaphoid fracture can lead to significant problems including reduced grip, strength and range of motion, osteoarthritis and avascular necrosis (death of the bone).

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How do I make a claim about failure to diagnose fractures

These claims can be complex. The first thing to do is to contact an expert law firm like Shoosmiths which specialises in this work. If you wish to investigate a claim you have 3 years from the date of the misdiagnosis to begin a claim at court. You should therefore not delay in contacting us.

We will need to review your medical records, and with the assistance of independent medical expert opinion determine whether there was a negligent failure to diagnose the fracture. That requires experience and understanding of the medical issues surrounding your case as well as proven legal expertise.

Your chosen law firm should have relationships with the appropriate independent medical experts including orthopaedic hand and wrist experts who can assess your treatment and advise on your condition and prognosis and any treatments you need will to aid your rehabilitation.

We can give you objective advice about the options you should consider, no matter how severe your injuries might be. We will consider all the issues in your case with a range of specialist medical experts and spare no effort to recover compensation that will help to minimise the effects of your injury.

How long will my claim about failure to diagnose fractures take

This depends on a number of things such as how serious your injuries are and whether the other party admits liability. We will first need to obtain your medical and hospital records and x-rays and then obtain medical evidence from independent experts to establish if there is a case to be answered by the hospital or doctor.

We will gather evidence about your current condition and what treatment you might require immediately and what you are likely to need in the future. We will also assess your financial losses, such as lost earnings if you cannot return to work and the costs of whatever help and support you may need as a result of the negligence.

All this takes time, but this information is vital to allow us to recover the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled as a result of any identified negligence. The approach that your opponent chooses to adopt can also affect the time it takes to settle.

Sometimes, they will accept our independent medical evidence and our valuation of the case. In these circumstances claims will settle more quickly than in cases where liability is denied. Claims can often be settled through negotiation even if liability is denied, but some can and do go to trial.

Here, we will always aim to resolve your case in your best interests as soon as possible, but our priority is your health and well-being and it will take time to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome for you.

If I have a case about failure to diagnose fractures

To have a claim we would have to prove that the care provided by the medical professional fell below the standard of care expected of a reasonable and responsible body of doctors and that if you had received treatment of an acceptable standard you would not have suffered the additional pain, and financial loss and you would more likely than not have been left with a better outcome.

If you have suffered a fracture and there was a delay in diagnosing and treating it, please contact us and one of our experienced solicitors will look at the circumstances of your case and advise you whether a claim is possible.

More about failure to diagnose fractures

Fractures can occur in one of two ways: a sudden and large application of force to a bone or a series of smaller forces, which repeat to cause a break in the bone (stress fractures).

Establishing the cause and type of fracture is important since the treatment that is appropriate for each individual fracture is different. The location of a fracture also affects the way in which it is fixed and treated, for example with casts, plates, screws, rods or external fixing.

A failure to diagnose the fracture, either through not taking an x-ray or misinterpreting it, may lead to mistreatment and mismanagement of the fracture. This can lead to a period of unnecessary pain and suffering and serious complications. Failure to diagnose, a delay in diagnosis and incorrect treatment of the fractures may lead to infections such as osteomyelitis and possibly avascular necrosis (bone death).


Our Experts

'Shoosmiths got me the rehab I needed and really helped with my family. They were fantastic throughout.'

Nicola Cooper, who suffered a serious brain injury after a seemingly trivial car accident.

Why Shoosmiths?

We have a wealth of experience dealing with complex military claims including where clients have been injured during the course of service or have experience undue suffering because of a breach of care. We also help families of military personnel prepare for inquests.

Why Shoosmiths

Who we work with

  • Brain Injury Group
  • Child Brain Injury Trust
  • Headway
  • SIA
  • Back Up
  • Macmillan
  • Danielles Flutterbyes
  • Forces
  • Bens Heroes Trust

Our accreditations

  • Accredited Personal Injury
  • Apil
  • Ama
  • Clinical Negligence
  • Legal 500
  • UK Chambers
  • The Society Of Clinical Injury Lawyers