Personal injury hurt arm

A patient’s dislocated elbow is left undiagnosed for nine weeks

This case study demonstrates the expertise of our Clinical Negligence team who recently worked with a client suffering from a significant elbow dislocation which was not spotted despite several consultations with an orthopaedic specialist as well as weekly physiotherapy sessions which were unsurprisingly extremely painful.

The background to this case involved the patient falling heavily in the garden following which she was admitted to the Sevenoaks Hospital. An x-ray was taken and she was diagnosed as possibly having an epicondylar fracture. She was placed in a plaster of Paris back-slab cast for four weeks.

After four weeks in plaster the patient was still suffering from a significant amount of pain, however, despite reporting this to the orthopaedic specialist at the time the cast was removed, no further x-rays were carried out and she was sent to have nine weeks of physiotherapy.

It later transpired that the patient’s elbow had become dislocated whilst in the plaster cast and had the orthopaedic specialist carried out a simple x-ray at the time the cast was removed then the complete elbow dislocation would have been spotted.

The patient found the weekly physiotherapy sessions extremely painful but gritted her teeth and tried to carry on regardless. Finally, a senior physiotherapist felt that was something was not quite right and referred her back to Sevenoaks Hospital where, under proper examination, it was discovered she had a posterior lateral chronic dislocation to her elbow.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that she had continued to have physiotherapy with a dislocated elbow joint it was decided that the joint itself was too damaged to salvage and she therefore had to undergo a complete elbow replacement operation. Thankfully, the patient is now doing well and the elbow replacement surgery has been successful although she no longer has the same strength in that arm or range of movement.

James Cahan specialises in medical negligence cases involving misdiagnosis. If you would like to ask James a question about a potential case involving misdiagnosis or you have a general query about medical negligence contact James on 01892 701289 in confidence.

We have one of the largest and most experienced specialist medical negligence teams in Southern England including London. Our team of highly experienced lawyers has the depth and range of expertise essential in this sensitive and often complex area of law. Our clinical negligence team is very proud to be ranked Number 1 in both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners UK.

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