Handy to Know

Handy to Know

International Left-Handers Day is celebrated during the month of August (on the 13th to be exact) and it is a chance to raise awareness of the everyday difficulties lefties face in a world designed for right-handed people.

However, imagine just how challenging your life could be if you sustained an injury to your dominant hand as a direct result of medical negligence. For example, a delay in diagnosis of a scaphoid fracture can result in significant complications and a lifetime of pain and restricted movement.

The scaphoid is a small bone in the bottom of the hand, around the area of the wrist. A scaphoid fracture is usually caused by a fall, often when you fall forward with your arms stretched out in front of you in an attempt to protect yourself from the fall. Treatment is usually with a cast on the arm up to the elbow which is worn for approximately 8 – 12 weeks.

However, scaphoid fractures can often be quite difficult to diagnose as standard x-rays may not always detect the break due to the fact that the scaphoid bone can be hidden behind other bones on an xray. Therefore, special scaphoid view x-rays should be taken with the hand and wrist in particular positions to aid in the viewing of the scaphoid.

It is also quite common for scaphoid fractures to fail to show up on an x-ray until some 10 to 14 days post injury. It is therefore very important for a medical practitioner to take a detailed history of the initial event surrounding the injury, together with a thorough physical examination of the wrist in order to ascertain whether a scaphoid fracture is likely and, if no fracture is evident on the first x-ray, the patient ought to be invited to return within 14 days for repeat x-rays.

If a scaphoid fracture is confirmed or even if it is only suspected upon initial presentation, it is usually treated by putting your arm in a cast. The fracture often heals well if it is detected and treated early.

However, significant complications can arise if a scaphoid fracture is not recognised in a timely manner. Delayed or non-united healing is much more likely if diagnosis and treatment is delayed. This may result in the necessity of bone-grafting surgery, and may leave the patient with long-term complications such as arthritis in the joint, persistent pain and limited movement. This, in turn, can have a devastating impact upon an individual’s ability to work in the future or can even impact upon routine day to day activities, such as brushing your hair or making a cup of tea.

Perhaps being left-handed in a world designed for those who are right-handed may not be quite so difficult after all!

Wolferstans’ clinical negligence team have a wealth of experience in all kinds of negligence claims, and their specialist lawyers regularly help people recover compensation for injuries sustained as a result of substandard care, including delays in diagnosis.

Wolferstans have successfully pursued claims involving scaphoid fractures including one individual who was awarded in excess of £60,000 as a result of being unable to continue to work as a builder due to the delay in receiving a correct diagnosis and treatment for his injury.

If you or a member of your family have suffered an injury as a result of medical negligence and you would like to receive some free initial legal advice, without obligation, please contact Ann Ball on 01752 292374 or email her at aball@wolferstans.com

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