Orthopedic injuries are those involving the bone, joints, muscles, tendon, and other soft tissues throughout the body. They are among the most common types of personal injuries, and can occur as the result of overuse or due to slips and falls, car accidents, or during recreational activities. While they often respond to treatment, without the proper care, orthopedic injuries can end up resulting in long-term problems and permanent disabilities. Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that there is a high rate of misdiagnosis and orthopedic negligence among doctors, preventing patients from receiving the treatment they need to recover.
Misdiagnosed Orthopedic Injuries
Earlier in 2017, Science Daily reported that medical studies of orthopedic surgical practices found the injuries such as pulled muscles or tendons and hairline fractures were among the most common types of misdiagnosed injuries. The study claims these injuries are often dismissed as seemingly minor by doctors, who fail to order additional testing or treatments. As a result, patients end up being more likely to suffer conditions such as arthritis and chronic inflammation resulting in ongoing pain and long term disabilities.
The American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) confirms these findings, and also claims that as many as a third of patients appearing at hospital emergency rooms suffer orthopedic injuries that are misdiagnosed and “ineffectively managed”. The AAOS claims that among the most common reasons for this problem include:
- Overly general consults with medical providers, which left patients without a firm diagnosis
- Incomplete symptoms and a lack information in medical records regarding the injury
- Ineffectiveness in medical imaging tests in terms of focusing on the affected area and incomplete test results
- “Grossly incorrect” diagnosis, where the underlying problem was attributed to other causes
Holding Doctors Accountable
When orthopedic injuries are misdiagnosed, the nature of the injury itself can make holding medical providers accountable challenging. An ache or painful spot in a muscle or tendon may flare up periodically, only to respond to superficial treatments like rest, over-the-counter pain relievers, or the application of heat or ice packs. Unfortunately, without a firm diagnosis of the condition and an understanding of the treatment options available, the injury is likely to steadily worsen over time.
Recently, a high profile instance of this problem occurred. As reported by Sports Illustrated during the Summer of 2017, two team orthopedic doctors misdiagnosed a leg injury suffered by New Orleans Saints cornerback Delvin Breaux.
- Breaux was initially diagnosed with a contusion, which is bruising of the tissues below the skin.
- Breaux had actually suffered a fractured fibula, which required surgery to repair the damage.
- The two team doctors were immediately fired, but Breaux now faces an extended recovery time and damage to his career as a result of the delayed diagnosis.
Get Help With Your Negligence Claim
If you are one of the many people who have suffered an instance of orthopedic negligence, call or contact the Anastopoulo Law Firm online today. We can arrange a free consultation with our South Carolina medical malpractice attorney, who can advise you on your rights to a claim.