Visitor Question

Ankle Surgery Fails to Repair Fracture…

Submitted By: Kelly (IL)

I was in a car accident January 28, 2011. I was at fault because I hit another vehicle. I ended up breaking my right ankle in the accident. I broke the fibula bone which needed a plate and screws to fix it. I also fractured and dislocated my ankle on the inside of my ankle (tibia I believe). I was not able to put weight on it for 8 weeks and the doctor was worried about a non-union of the fracture, so he ordered a bone stimulator.

I also did therapy for approximately 10 weeks. I was still having trouble walking and had a lot of pain and swelling, and very limited range of motion in my ankle. By June 2011 I ended up losing my job because I could not return to work. I went back to this doctor in August and he told me I had another fracture in my fibula bone that originally happened in the accident. I was unaware of this because I was never told at that time.

That fracture never healed and in turn ended up breaking completely and needed surgery to be fixed. Now I am wondering why I was never told because I know he had to see the problem when I would have multiple x-rays on my follow up visits.

So unfortunately I had to go to another doctor because I couldn’t use him without insurance. This other doctor told me he could fix the break but not guarantee I wouldn’t still have pain or difficulty with range of motion, because I had a very bad case of arthritis set in.

So in October 21, 2011 I had my second surgery. I spent 6 weeks in a cast and did not start therapy until about 4 months post-op because we didn’t want a re-occurance. I still have a lot of pain, it’s hard to walk because of the pain and I still have very limited range of motion.

I also now have a lot of pain in my knee because I walked so awkwardly for the past year and I am afraid I’ve damaged that too. I have pain in my left hip and my lower back from overcompensating and I also now use a cane for balance. I have also developed bone spurs and was told by my doctor that my ankle is about as good as it is going to be. I cannot work in the job field I did before this.

What can I do and is this a possible malpractice suit? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Kelly,

From the limited facts you present it is extremely difficult to confirm whether or not medical malpractice occurred. It does though seem curious why the original doctor missed the additional fracture.

In most hospitals, especially after traumatic car accidents, X-rays, MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and Cat Scans (Computer Axial Tomography) examinations reveal injures to bones, tendons, ligaments, and even organs.

In your case it seems only x-rays were taken and relied upon. It is curious because under the same circumstances, normally after x-rays are taken and before they are sent back to the surgeon, they are read by another separate physician or radiologist. That would mean the radiologist AND your treating physician missed the additional break.

In addition, to prove medical malpractice you would have to prove as a direct result of the doctors’ missing and failing to treat the additional bone fracture, all or part of your subsequent medical problems developed. That may be a stretch.

You can do the following:

Seek out the advice of at least one other physician. In your case an orthopedic specialist would be the proper choice. Bring with you copies of all of your medical records, including your complete set of x-rays. You will need medical confirmation tying the missed fracture to your subsequent medical problems.

At the same time seek out at least one personal injury attorney. Try and find those who have extensive experience in medical malpractice cases. Once again, bring to the attorney copies of all your medical records and the set of x-rays.

With the support of expert medical testimony and with the advice and counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney you will be in the best position to determine whether or not medical malpractice occurred, and if it did what your chances of prevailing in a personal injury claim will be.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: April 9, 2012

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