Discussions By Condition: Medical Errors

Misdiagnosed broken back

Posted In: Medical Errors 2 Replies
  • Posted By: Anonymous
  • March 9, 2007
  • 10:17 PM

My husband was hit by a car cycling to work a 1.5 years ago. It was travelling ~ 50mph & sent him flying forward & he landed on his bottom. He was taken to A&E on a back board & xrayed.They saw a 70/75% collapse of T12 and 40% of T11 & they reported this as NAD (nothing abnormal detected) and NBI (no bony injury). He had reported abdominal pain & they found raised amylase & a problem with prothrombin clotting time. He also had completely numb areas of his buttocks. They told him he had a sprain/strain & that he should be better in a few weeks. They rang my work and told them the same.

My husband couldn't walk, but was helped in to a wheelchair. He moaned if I moved it so, to push more smoothly I asked if I could leave the bags at reception. They refused (but I just left them there anyway). I tried to persuade my husband to ask for an ambulance, but he was too embarrassed to ask for one. He had to crawl in to the house and couldn't make it up the stairs to bed. He has had to sleep on the sofa ever since.

He did not recover. We asked for a wheelchair-they refused. He asked for an MRI scan. He was given another xray which reported 'evidence of compression fractures at T12 and L1'. The GP reported this to pain management as minor fractures of long standing that are above the site of his current pain. It was true that he did have a worse pain lower down, but T12 still hurt a lot.

He developed a hump in his upper back & he had lost 2.5 inches in height. The report from pain management told him to think less about his insurance claim. His legs had been swelling and going all red & blotchy then the red blotches turned browner. Nothing was done. He then lost feeling in his foot. They did a d-dimer. It was negative so they sent him home.

I complained to the chemist that nothing had been done so she advised me to go back & complain again until something was. He rang & they then perscribed support stockings. We asked for him to be referred to a neurologist. He was told they would refer him to a orthopaedic s. who might then refer him to a neurologist (His notes still stated 'no neurological problems' and they deny hearing about the loss of feeling in his foot)

3/4 months later he got an appointment. He was told he must have had a fall from a great height as he walked in. He said no, he had been hit by a car and catapulted forward. The Dr nodded. He then showed us the collapse at T12 and 11 & we showed him the hump in his back. He ordered more xrays and discovered breaks at T6 & T7 where the humps were. We went through his history, but he recorded 'no neurological problems' in his notes but doesn't deny that we told him like the others. He says they were not urgent problems as they were of long standing. He advised an MRI and we had to wait 10 weeks.

I was horrified by what we had discovered 11 months after the injury & wanted things speeded up. I was refused. The MRI eventually showed a burst fracture at T12 that projected into the spinal canal stopping just short of his spinal cord. It showed continuous damage between L1 and T5. The vertebrae and discs look abnormal & the spine is straight at this point instead of having its curve. Although I can see this, and the clinical director at the first hospital that sent him home after 2 hours agrees that they are all damaged (I showed him the MRI during a visit to complain), the report only mentions the most obvious breaks at T6&7 and T11&12.

His oxycodon does not seem to be as effective and he was getting increased pain. It may be from piriformis syndrome due to his sciatic nerve being trapped in his damaged buttock tissue that is causing the worst shooting pains up his back & down his legs and making his legs go numb.

Surgery to fuse his spine or free the nerve sounds risky. The surgeon has never even done a piriformis release before. The rehab programme offers walks and bowling! It doesn't seem to cater for his level of damage, but we shall have to wait and see how he gets on.

We think sleeping on the sofa and being sent to physio and made to travel a few weeks after the accident has really harmed his recovery. He can not lie flat at all and can not sleep in a bed. The area of buttock on which he landed is still completely numb.

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2 Replies:

  • When I read your posting I just want to break down and cry. Sometimes I wonder just how bad the medical system can get. Several years ago I was in a car accident. I took the shock in my left arm and jerked my neck. I was never given an MRI until years later and the person who looked at it must have been a moron. All I was told was that everything was fine and to quit feeling sorry for myself. The neurologist did absolutely nothing for me. I went through having numb hands, blinding migraines, swallowing problems, choking, and having my right leg go numb. Finally, years later, I found out that I had a compression fracture in the thoracic which had herniated the disc and there were two discs in my neck impinging the cord. I have alot of right-sided numbness and a limp.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • dear all..I feel the pain your husband is going through and I really wondered how he could have endured this pain throughout these 11 months... I want to share this with you and hope you really consider what I have done to nurse myself back to health.I am not sure what is the condition of your husband now, but once the fractures heal, please look for a chiropractor to fix his spine! This is extremely important. The fact that his spine is now misaligned, refer to as 'SUBLUXATION'. It is so crucial that he does not allow this to hinder his life any further. I had a scoliosis which was not diagnosed until I got a slip disc at the age of 26. It cause me great pain for the whole year. I was also not diagnose with slip disc until 3months after the pain got to an unbearable state where I cannot even get out of bed. And a week later, I can get out of bed, but not able to life a cup with one hand, not able to open doors etc. The simplest motion in life, I was unable to do. However, I went to Physiotherapy and did get better and I thought I was finally well again. I started Pilates to strengthen my core muscles so I am able to function well and return to my active lifestyle playing volleyball, swimming, jogging etc. But my health took a very big downturn. I started having infections and pain in my ears but the specialist can't find the cause of it. I got eye infections, my posture was noticeably getting worse. I was hunching forward, shoulders curving in. I got numbness in my legs and tongue sometimes.. I had urinary problems... I lose sleep drastically, I was unable to concentrate on my work because my concentration level was just not there at all. No matter how had you tell yourself to focus. My health just went down the hill.. I was very concern.BUT, I am very lucky to be introduced to my CHIROPRACTOR. I have been going to him for the last 3 months to fix my Subluxation . My numbness went away in 2 weeks. So did i get improved sleep, concentration, better posture, all my allergies that I had before even got reduced. I was really happy to have know about Chiropratic. When the spine is misaligned, your nerves are pinched and the information that flows from your brain to the other parts of your body is affected. This causes all the symptoms our body shows through pains and allergies and infections. All these are the ways our body is telling us it is unwell and not able to perform at its best. chiropractor fixes the cause of all these problems inside out. No medication, but chiropractic adjustments are made to help align the spine to ensure smooth flowing of the communication system in our body! I relly hope you consider going to a chiropractor! It really put me back in good shape and in good general wellness.Please take care and I hope you have a speedy recovery! ^_^
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
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