Discussions By Condition: Medical Errors

misdiagnosis of a fractured elbow

Posted In: Medical Errors 2 Replies
  • Posted By: Anonymous
  • July 11, 2008
  • 05:28 PM

Hello everybody,

I am new to these boards and have a couple of stories to share with you. The first one is the misdiagnosis of a fractured elbow. On July 4th, 2008, I was jumping on a trampoline with my kids. (I'm 39 and had a couple of drinks - smart, huh?) Anyway, I fell off of the trampoline and landed directly on my left elbow. Not only did I hear a crack, but so did everybody within 20 feet of me. After about an hour of not wanting to go to the hospital, I finally gave in because my elbow was making grinding noises when I moved it, along with my lower arm feeling like it was actually dislocating. By this time, my elbow was starting to swell and I couldn't fight it any longer. I had to go to the hospital. I had x-rays of my elbow and the dr. came back and told me that I just had a bone contusion and sent me home. Well, over the next couple of days, my lower arm and hand swelled up, I got bright red, purple bruising on the elbow and lower arm, and it just hurt more than I can tell you. Also, there were certain ways that I moved my left elbow that would send shock waves of severe pain throughout my body. Now..........I'm no brain surgeon.......nor Orthopedic Surgeon for that matter, but I know my body, and I know that there was something more wrong than just a bone contusion. I am a file clerk/cashier at a car dealership and I did not go to work on Monday due to severe pain, swelling, and bruising in my left elbow, but did go Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with my elbow wrapped in an ace bandage. Well, the pain never got any better so I went to the E.R. last night (Thursday July 10th). This time it was a different dr. and different hospital. Well, I got the exact same diagnosis, even though now my arm will not flex or extend nearly as well as my right arm. I told the dr. about the grinding in my elbow, the fact that it hurt severely, and that it was not getting any better. The dr. actually told me that I had full flexion and extension of my arm, even though I showed him my two elbows right next to each other. He gave me a sling and told me to go home. What a frickin' joke!!!

So, this morning I received a call from the hospital that I went to last night and the dr. said that after an actual Radiologist looked at my x-rays, she found that I had a fracture of my left elbow. Gee, ya think?!? I don't understand why, first of all, a Radiologist did not look at my x-rays when I went to the hospital both times, and now I'm wondering whether I have made my elbow worse over the past few days since the reading of my first
x-rays! The dr. last night was so sure that I had absolutely nothing wrong with my elbow even though I was in so much pain and could hardly move it. Now I have to go to an Orthopedic Surgeon to see what my next step is. I am truly starting to lose faith in ALL doctors. What if I wouldn't have gone back to the E.R. last night? I would be walking around with a fractured elbow that in the long run would probably have not healed correctly. As it stands right now, it has been exactly one week since I hurt my elbow and I have lost such range of motion that I'm wondering if I'll ever get it back. UGG!!!

Thanks for letting me vent and I'll share a much worse misdiagnosis story with you later. My elbow is really starting to hurt.


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2 Replies:

  • You have a real valid case against the hospital and initial doctor. He did not use common sense in evaluating you. In a person with a history of recent trauma that is in a lot of pain with crepitus( grinding) and swelling, you have to assume fracture until proven otherwise. Since a radiologist did not read the films until days later, they did not rule out the fracture in the first visit. I am sorry that you had to go through all of that suffering. Doctors are human even though sometimes they think they're God.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies Flag this Response
  • A lot of hospitals use residents (doctors in training, I call them baby doctors, no offense to obgyns) or contract doctors who do not have a true vested intrest in the patient. They are doing their time and leaving. But in addition to that, xrays are taken and read by those doctors who may or may not have experience in reading such diagnostic information. However during the night or the next day the xrays are sent to contract services that actually are responsible for performing an educated reading on your xrays. I have had misreadings several times on hairline fractures which then became worse. I fractured both ankles --pivoted in brand new tennis shoes and I pivoted and and the shoes gripped the concrete instead with my feet still facing forward. Initial xrays missed fractures in ankles and legs. I fell on a broken sidewalk; broke bones in ankle and leg -- they missed the fracture in leg. I fell and broke bones in a foot. Did not go to doctor. now healed wrong. I fell on right elbow and it appears to be fractured. Was at hospital they did not examine even though I told them I hurt. This was four weeks ago. Now if you think I am a klutz, so did I until diagnosed with seizures; never had a memory of the fall. But sure hurt afterwards. I don't think they look at fractures very well any more. Unless it is a true break through and through, ER does not care. I have had to followup over and over to get the correct foot boot etc. I now keep some of the stuff on hand. I know I will fall again. I have boots, knee things and cold packs, shoulder packs etc. on hand. So when come back from hospital can start the PT.:(
    Abbydoodle 138 Replies Flag this Response
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