Can you have a broken bone after an accident when the emergency room doctor or urgent care doctor said the X-ray shows you don’t have a broken bone and sent you home? Guess what? You might have a broken bone.
After a car accident or any other accident, many people go to the emergency room or urgent care and are told that there is no fracture or broken bone, but still have a lot of pain the next day. Then they find they did have a broken bone.
See when you should go to the emergency room or urgent care.
What to Do If a Lawyer Isn’t Interested in Your Case Because a Hospital Said You Don’t Have a Broken Bone
If you called a lawyer who isn’t interested in your case because a hospital said you don’t have a broken bone, call us! We’ll take your case right away. If you don’t have a broken bone, we can still get you a lot of money, so we want your case anyway. If you do have a broken bone, it could be a million-dollar case. Find out what a broken bone is worth.
Poll – Did you or do you know anyone who had a fracture or broken bone when the hospital said you don’t?
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What Is a Broken Bone?
First, you should know that a fracture, break, shattered bone, fractured bone, and a broken bone are all different words meaning the same thing. There is no difference.
There are different types of breaks in bones, but that doesn’t matter for this article. If a bone is broken, fractured, or shattered, the bone is broken, no matter if it is a hairline fracture, comminuted fracture, or a compound fracture where the bone is sticking out of your skin.
What Should You Do if You Are Still in Pain After Leaving a Hospital ER and Were Told You Don’t Have a Broken Bone?
What you should do if you went to the hospital emergency room or urgent care after an accident and were told your X-ray shows you do not have a broken bone:
- Wait until the next day. If you still have a lot of pain, you might have a broken bone.
- If you still have a lot of pain, go back to the hospital ER for another X-ray or see an orthopedic surgeon.
- X-rays taken a day or two after an accident often show a fracture that wasn’t seen on the first X-ray.
The majority of missed fractures will be seen a day or two after the accident. However, fractures still may not be seen on X-ray, and an MRI or CT scan may be needed to diagnose the fracture.
Can I Have a Broken Bone When the Hospital Emergency Room or Urgent Care Said I Don’t Have a Fracture?
Yes. If you still have a lot of pain the next day after an accident, you might have a broken bone.
A broken bone is commonly missed by X-rays in the emergency room on the day of the accident. We frequently have clients who call us from the hospital ER and tell us they were diagnosed with a sprain but are later diagnosed with a fracture, such as a broken ankle or broken leg, among other broken bones.
What prompted me to write this article was a client, John, who called me a couple of days ago from urgent care, saying his X-Ray did not show a fracture and that he had a sprain.
John fell when he stepped into a large pothole while getting out of his car in a shopping mall parking lot. He heard a crack and was in a lot of pain. Although urgent care said his X-Ray did not show a fracture, I suspected he did. Hearing a crack is a good indication that you broke a bone.
I told John to go to the hospital the next day if he still had a lot of pain. The next day he went to a hospital ER, where they did another X-ray and saw an obvious displaced tibial plateau fracture.
A tibial plateau fracture is close to the knee and can affect the stability of the knee. The tibia is the larger main weight-bearing bone of the leg. This is a very serious injury that usually requires surgery.
These articles at the National Library of Medicine document the significant number of fractures missed on X-rays at the hospital ER and many of the reasons that fractures are missed by radiologists when viewing X-rays:
- Traumatic fractures in adults: missed diagnosis on plain radiographs in the Emergency Department
- Errors in fracture diagnoses in the emergency department – characteristics of patients and diurnal variation. A considerable number of fractures were missed at the initial ER visit, with a peak in mistakes in fracture diagnosis between 8 pm and 2 am.
- The most frequently missed fractures were of the hand and foot; however, many more types of fractures are also commonly missed by the hospital ER.
How Can You Have a Broken Bone When the X-Ray Shows You Do Not Have a Broken Bone?
Following are some reasons people often have a fracture or broken bone after an accident when told the X-ray doesn’t show a fracture:
- Some nondisplaced fractures are difficult to see on the X-ray.
- Some nondisplaced fractures will not show on the X-ray on the day of the accident but will show a day or two later.
- Some nondisplaced fractures will not show on the X-ray at all.
- Stress fractures usually do not show up on an X-ray.
- It could be an occult fracture that does not appear well on an X-ray.
- Failure to correctly interpret the X-rays
- Misinterpreted as normal variants or old injuries
- X-rays were taken at the wrong angle
- Superposition of anatomical structures, suboptimal positioning, and technique
- Ligament injury resulting in a diagnosis of a sprain and missing the fracture
- Many fractures are visible only in a single view. If that view is not obtained, then the examination will be interpreted as falsely negative.
Can You Have a Broken Bone Without Swelling or Bruising?
Yes. There are often no external signs of bruising with a fracture.
Why You May Not Realize You Have a Broken Bone After an Accident
After an accident, many people don’t realize they have a serious injury when they have a fracture. Unless it happened to you, you wouldn’t know that or understand why.
The reason that people don’t realize they have a fracture or other serious injuries after an accident is:
- People are in shock at the time of the accident and don’t feel pain yet.
- People often don’t feel pain right away from a fracture until it starts swelling a few hours later. That could happen in the ER or at home.
- People may have one injury that is very painful such as a back injury, that masks pain from another injury, such as a broken knee.
How to Know If You Have a Broken Bone After an Accident
- You probably suspect you have broken a bone.
- You hear a cracking sound.
- The area around the fracture may be swollen, bruised, sore, or tender.
- The limb may be deformed.
- The area hurts a lot.
- You have to favor the area because of pain.
- If the bone pops through the skin, it’s obviously broken.
Phil Franckel is well-known in New York and has been a personal injury lawyer since 1989. He is a Founding Partner of 1-800-HURT-911, LLP®, the Personal Injury Dream Team™, and a former Member Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. He has an Avvo Top 10 Rating, Avvo Client’s Choice Award with all 5-star reviews, Avvo Top Contributor Award, Multi-Million Dollar Trial Lawyers Award, and others. See Mr. Franckel’s bio for areas of expertise.
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Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is one of the HURT911® Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York; He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.
Robert Plevy, Esq. is one of the HURT911® Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York. Rob began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel defending The City of New York against personal injury lawsuits.
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