Torn bicep went undiagnosed for years, causing permanent damage...

by Greg
(Washington, USA)

I was working construction I injured my arm. When I went to step up on the catwalk with my left leg, my right leg slipped and I began to fall under the catwalk. I reached up with my left arm and grabbed the handrail to catch myself. I felt a big pop and was then hanging there by my left arm. I got my footing back and got out of there.

I went into the office because my arm was killing me. I took my shirt off and my left arm was already swelling, bloodshot and bruising, so waited for the boss. He had me fill out an incident report and sent me across the street to our therapist (comes 3 times a week).

He looked at it and said he thought it was just a bruised muscle. He said I should be okay to work, but to take it easy and if it continues to hurt go to the doctor.

After a couple days of working in pain I asked my boss if I could go have it looked at by the doctor. He said no, go to the hospital. It would be a time loss injury so he contacted someone that they have a contract with so he could meet with us.

When I saw the MD he thought it was a minor muscle tear and it would get better with time... the pain should eventually go away.

I never was given an MRI, but he still said I could go back to work, just go easy at work with it. I worked 2 years with pain and was finally fed up and went and told my boss several different times I wanted a 2nd opinion. Then I got with the safety person at work and he got me set up with a different doctor.

They saw me, set up an MRI and also got my claim reopened. I got my MRI and talked to an orthopedic surgeon. He informed me that my bicep had been torn in half the whole time. He was quite upset that they didn't give me an MRI before this.

Long story short, I ended up having surgery to replace my bicep with cadaver muscle, but it couldn't be fixed because muscle shrunk to much. Now I'm messed up for rest of my life. My arm will never be the same. It was also my dominant arm being that I am left handed.

I think I should get more than medical bills paid since I've basically lost the use of my dominant arm. What can I do?

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Torn bicep went undiagnosed for years, causing permanent damage...":

Greg (Washington, USA):

You are entitled to workers' compensation for your injuries, but you may have an important option available to you. While under workers' comp you are entitled to compensation for your medical and therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and a portion of your lost wages, you're not entitled to pain and suffering.

You may have the basis of a strong medical malpractice claim(s) against the doctors who misdiagnosed your injuries. This is especially true because you have sustained a permanent and apparently debilitating injury solely as a result of their misdiagnoses. In your case, it was a failure to properly diagnose the tear to your bicep.

Speak with several workers' compensation attorneys. Many handle workers' comp claims and medical malpractice claims. If you can’t find a workers' comp attorney who practices in both areas of the law, he may be able to refer you to a competent medical malpractice attorney.

In the interim, gather copies of all your medical and therapy bills, as well as receipts for out of pocket expenses. If possible, ask your employer for a letter verifying the dates and wages you lost because of your injury. The attorneys will review these records and decide if you have a valid claim.

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

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

P.S. Please help us out by sharing this site...

Comments for Torn bicep went undiagnosed for years, causing permanent damage...

Click here to add your own comments

Very Similar situation to yours. Please Read!!
by: Anonymous

I hope this gets to either Greg or Judge Anthony:

Almost exactly the same scenario happened to me except that I completely tore both biceps at work that day (more than 1 year ago). It took that outfit and their Ortho Surgeon more than 3 months to determine I needed the surgery after uselessly prescribing PT and meds. I am fortunately covered by WC for now.

I recently consulted with a Malpractice attorney and the reply was as such:

"The medical research shows the site of the ruptured tendon may guide treatment but is not black or white, surgery vs non-surgery. There are pros and cons to both treatment plans. There is very little randomized trial data and who gets the benefit over who does not if surgery is employed.

In addition, there is a pathological component that is used in defense of these other words, the tissue starts to disintegrate for some reason causing weak tissue.

Of course, it is not possible to sew the tendon back together, it has to be reattached to another place, leaving weakness in certain movements, especially turning and twisting of the arm.

Repair is still controversial and associated with radial and lateral ante brachial nerve issues, as well as synostosis of forearm bones. So, primary repair is not a benign procedure. Most surgeons follow the rule that neglected biceps rupture beats a repair with radial paralysis or a cross union, 2 risks of this surgery that are devastating.

The advantage of repair is correction of "Popeye" deformity and restoration of 4 % loss of supination (turning and twisting the arm) strength. Apparently, the other arm movements are not affected.

It is not malpractice to not repair distal biceps, but the surgeon should tell you all of this information.

Based on the above, I do not believe we would be successful in pursuing a claim against the Medical outfit or the physician."

In other words - I'm still up the creek without the paddle. I already had the left arm grafted (with a donor's Achilles' Tendon) and got approved for the Right Arm graft in a month, also to be followed by 4-6 months of PT twice a week.

Do I have a case or the attention of a great Malpractice attorney that would be willing to help?

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Work Disability Questions

How Much Is Your Claim Worth?

Find out now with a FREE case review from an attorney...

How Much Are Your
Injuries Worth?

Find out with a
free attorney review: