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Medical Malpractice/malunion of distal radius fracture


My left wrist suffered a extra-articular, non-displaced fracture and was treated with a below elbow cast, which was removed after five and a half weeks.  I had one x-ray through the cast two weeks after the break and again when the cast was removed and another a month after that.  I got a second opinion four months after I broke this wrist because I still had stiffness, pain on the ulnar side of the wrist on rotation and very limited flexion, despite working very, very hard to rehabilitate the wrist in occupational therapy.  The second opinion was by a hand surgeon in a major city and included review of my x-rays and radiology reports, a physical exam, and additional x-rays.  The result was that I was informed I have a 25 degree dorsal tilt, which the doctor said, adding the lack of the normal 11 degree voler tilt, is actually a 36 degree dorsal tilt.  
I confronted my orthopedic treating doctor a few weeks later and he was very defensive, stating he has treated wrists for 30 years and I had not given enough time and needed a change of occupational therapist and 6 more weeks of aggressive OT and he also gave me scripts for celebrex and a topical NSAID, both of which made me sick to my stomach after a week of use.

My question is:  did he meet the standard of care by not x-raying me weekly for the first 3 weeks and not informing me of the chance my wrist could re-displace in the cast.  Also, I don't know how the radiology reports state I had a mild dorsal tilt, which did not change from x-ray to x-ray, yet the second doctor said I have a significant dorsal tilt.  I am sooo confused at this point.

My right wrist was fractured as well.  It was impacted and comminnuted and I had surgery with an ORIF.  Fortunately, I am right-handed and it is, at this point, almost completely normal.

It is surprising how many activities of daily living require two good wrists, though.  My good friend commented that if we only needed one wrist, we would not be born with two!!  How true!

Do you think I have a case.  I don't want to get and Osteotomy because I am 61 yrs. old and have osteopenia in my hip (graft sight).  Plus, after researching this salvage surgery, I know that it is very, very challenging, especially when the surgeon cannot see the original fracture sight, due to the amount of time (six months) since the original injury, thus he has more difficulty planning the amount of correction.  Plus I do not have a normal wrist to use to compare the correct alignment.  

Any advise you can give me would be greatly appreciated.  I had to retire from my very good civil service job due to my left wrist!


Mary: I don't understand how these problems you describe resulted from a NON DISPLACED fracture. In any event, I can't answer the medical questions nor can any lawyer unless they had recently litigated a similar case and heard extensively from orthopedic surgeons on both sides of the question.  But here are the legal issues that would determine if you had a viable malpractice case.  By "viable" I mean this:  Malpractice occurs thousands of times every day but unless the damages are worth at the least, maybe 250K, the case is not economically feasible.  In any event, here is how I like to explain it:  Imagine 10 orthopedic/hand/wrist surgeons who studied every detail of your medical case. How you were injured, what was injured, and how you were treated.  In my way of thinking , at least 6 or 7 of those surgeons would have to say something such as "My God, what was Mary's doctor thinking?  He either misdiagnosed the injury very badly for which there is no good excuse and/or the surgery he performed was not a matter of reasonable medical judgment but the totally wrong way to correct the injury.  No reasonably competent surgeon would have done the surgery he did or would not have done it badly like was done here.  This surgeon was negligent in the treatment of this injury and as a result, the patient will have a life-long disability in that wrist which she would not have had if she received proper treatment and surgery"

So, if the negligence was that clear and the damages so severe, then you might have a case but even then, borderline.  Your lawyer would have to spend a lot of money to obtain the expert opinion, file and litigate the case, take the deposition of experts on the other side that would say the poor result was unfortunate but not because of any negligence by the defendant doctor and anyways, with time the wrist will improve, she was about to retire for other reasons anyways, so there is not loss of earnings even if there was negligence, blah blah blah.  So your priority is get that writst working again and don't count on having a viable malpractice case unless you get an opinion from another doctor that the care you received was inexcusably wrong and this has caused you a permanent significant problem.  Of course I hope that is not the case. Good luck. Hope this helped.  

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Glenn A. Dorfman


Thirty-four years experience in personal injury, medical malpractice and medical product liability law. Qualified to answer all questions regarding injuries and the law, except for worker`s compensation. Also wide experience in medical product defect cases ie current litigation regarding the Johnson&Johnson (DePuy)defective hip implant cases and Mirena IUD issues


Thirty-four years experience handling cases involving auto accidents, trips and fall, fires, dog bite,medical malpractice and defective medical product cases with particular emphasis in 2012 and beyond with the DePuy ASR (Johnson&Johnson) defective hip implant cases. Twenty-five years of experience with defective IUD issues as well

Jurisdoctor Degree 1976 and Member in good standing with CA State Bar Assoc. since 1976

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