Missed Scaphoid Fracture
A 12 year old girl fell and injured her right, dominant, wrist. After a couple of days, it was very painful and had begun to swell. She attended A & E at the hospital and an x-ray was carried out. She was told it was just a sprain and was given some painkillers.
Some months later, the wrist was still painful and her mother took her back to A & E. The original x-ray was reviewed and she was told again that it had just been a sprain. She was given a bandage to wear.
3 years later, her wrist became extremely painful and she was unable to write. She attended her GP who prescribed painkillers. These did not help and she attended her GP again who referred her for an x-ray and physiotherapy.
Approximately 3 and a half years after her injury, a further x-ray was taken which showed a fractured scaphoid bone in her wrist. The original x-ray was reviewed. The original x-ray did show that the scaphoid bone had been broken when she initially attended A & E 3 and a half years before.
She underwent bone grafting and a fixation operation on her scaphoid bone in the wrist 4 years after the injury.
The scaphoid fracture in her wrist should have been diagnosed when she first attended A & E. The delay in diagnosis of the fracture to the scaphoid bone meant that she suffered considerable pain, and had to undergo an operation. The delay in diagnosis caused degenerative changes in her wrist, and she will not regain full flexibility in her dominant wrist. She is also at an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis and of requiring an arthrodesis or fusion of the bones.
After the claim was made, the hospital admitted that they were at fault for failing to diagnose the scaphoid fracture. After receiving our expert medical report, the defendants made an offer of £25,000, which was rejected. A counter offer was made which the defendants accepted. The client received damages of £42,500.
If a child under the age of 18 years brings a claim then the terms of settlement have to be approved by a judge. In this case the client had just reached the age of 18 when terms of settlement were agreed and so it was not necessary to ask the court for its approval.