Visitor Question

Missed diagnosis of dislocated elbow…

Submitted By: Kevin (Massachusettes, USA)

I had two surgeries to repair a broken ulnar bone in my arm. Each surgery the surgeon put a plate in to stabilize the bone. Each surgery resulted in a non-union of bone. I saw a second orthopedic surgeon for his opinion. He noticed that the elbow was dislocated, which caused misalignment of the ulnar bone and was causing the non-union.

The new doctor performed a 3rd surgery and replaced the original plate. He attached a longer rod for stabilization and also had to rebuild and repair the radial head of the elbow, which he noticed was fractured while performing the surgery. Now it all looks good and is lined up correctly.

My question is, shouldn’t the 1st surgeon have seen the damage during the 1st or 2nd surgeries? I feel he should have been able to see these problems if not the 1st time definitely during the second surgery. Could he be held liable for the missed diagnosis? Thanks.

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 Kevin,

Whether the first surgeon should have seen the damage during the first or second surgeries is a matter of medical opinion. You won’t know if you have a legitimate medical malpractice claim until you secure at least one other medical opinion supporting your claim of malpractice. Doing so will be difficult.

Instead, seek the advice and counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney with substantial experience in medical malpractice cases.

Most successful medical malpractice attorneys have access to medical experts. In most cases if you find an attorney to take your case you won’t have to pay for medical expert testimony or other investigative matters. That will all be paid for in advance by your attorney.

Gather copies of your medical records including diagnostic test results. Take them with you when you visit with the attorneys. Most attorneys will not charge for an initial office consultation. You would be best served by seeking consultations with several attorneys until such time as you feel comfortable with one.

Learn more here: Wrong Diagnosis

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!


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