Can You Have a Broken Bone if the Emergency Room or Urgent Care Says You Don’t?

Wondering, 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? 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.

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What Is a Broken Bone?

First, you should know that a fracture, break, shattered bone, fractured bone, and 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.

broken femur fracture with internal fixation

This was a broken femur one of our clients had. The fracture is shown after surgery with internal fixation.

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:

  1. Wait until the next day. If you still have a lot of pain, you might have a broken bone.
  2. If you still have a lot of pain, go back to the hospital ER for another X-ray or see an orthopedic surgeon.
  3. An X-ray taken a day or two after an accident will usually 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 may still 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 and many others.

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:

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 couple of hours later. That could happen in the ER or at home if you didn’t go to the ER.
  • 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.

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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Attorney Franckel is a well-known personal injury lawyer, Founding Partner of 1-800-HURT-911® New York, 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 other awards. 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.

1-800-HURT-911® Founding Partner and Personal Injury Lawyer Rob Plevy, Esq.

Founding Partner Rob Plevy, Esq.

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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