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Case study: Misdiagnosis of Fractured Ankle
JMW has assisted a woman in receiving £125,000 after medical professionals failed to diagnose a broken ankle leading to numerous complications.
When Julie, 40, fell at home she injured her left ankle and therefore attended A&E at her local hospital. The ankle was very painful but once an x-ray was taken a physician assistant (physician assistants are allowed to treat patients only under the direct supervision of a doctor) could see no evidence of a fracture. A diagnosis of a sprain was made and Julie was discharged home with crutches. The ankle was not immobilised or splinted even though Julie requested both.
Ongoing pain and a visit to the GP
Julie’s ankle was very painful for the next few weeks and she went to the GP to request a repeat X-ray as she was convinced the ankle was broken. The GP refused and referred her for physiotherapy, which did not help as the ankle was so painful.
Eventually the GP agreed to refer Julie to an orthopaedic consultant and she was seen approximately 9 weeks after the injury. An MRI scan revealed a non-united fracture of the tip of the left lateral malleolus (distal end of the fibula) with some ligament damage. The ankle was immobilised in a below knee plaster cast.
Wearing an ankle brace and undergoing further surgery
After about 5 weeks the cast was removed and replaced by an ankle brace but the fracture did not unite. Julie underwent surgery 6 months after the accident and Julie remained in a below knee plaster cast for another 4 weeks, by which time the fracture had united.
The focus of our case
Julie and JMW’s solicitors claimed that the attending physician assistant in A&E was negligent in failing to make a correct diagnosis despite her presenting with classic clinical signs of serious ankle injury, such as severe pain and an inability to weight bear. Also, as the X-ray taken did not demonstrate the distal end of the fibula (as reported by the radiologist) a repeat x-ray should have been ordered before a firm diagnosis was made.
Had the correct diagnosis been made either at the time of the accident Julie’s ankle would have been immobilised in a below knee plaster cast for 6 weeks. It is most likely that she would have made a complete recovery. The hospital accepted that the standard of care fell below a reasonable level (breach of duty).
Before the accident Julie was very active and enjoyed DIY and gardening but now she is unable to do any of these things. She continues to experience pain in the ankle. This has had a huge impact on her social life and level of fitness.
The case was settled and Julie received £125,000 in compensation.
Talk to our solicitors if you have had a similar experience
If you suffered an ankle fracture and doctors treating you failed to see it, leading to further injury and pain, you could be entitled to claim compensation for clinical negligence.