We received a call from the parents of a 5 year old little boy. He had
fallen from a swing and had been taken to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon.
The allegation was that the orthopedic surgeon failed to diagnose fractures
to his radial head (broken arm). Neither the orthopedic surgeon nor the
radiologist identified any fractures. Based upon a belief that the boy
had only suffered a dislocation, the decision was made to cast the child’s
arm. The fracture was not “reduced” (or placed back into alignment).
The allegation is that the casting caused the bone(s) to
heal back in the wrong alignment. This young boy now requires significant surgery to “re-break”
the arm and to set it and achieve healing through the use of substantial
hardware. The subsequent treating doctor advised the family that the fractures
were missed and the casting of the arm without aligning the bone fragments
was the cause of the required surgery. However, the subsequent treating
doctor has no interest in testifying in the case as to the standard of
care or the failures of the other doctor or doctors involved in this case.
Although this is frustrating– it is common. Certainly, our clients
need to understand that often their treating doctors do not want to get
involved in testifying about standard of care. However, that can make
it more difficult to prove an allegation of medical malpractice.