Young Boy Requires Surgery After Failure to Diagnose Fractures

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.
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