A fracture, which is another term for a broken bone, is a common injury usually resulting from a fall, motor vehicle accident or other types of trauma.
Fractures can occur in any part of the body that contains bones; from the skull to the ankle and everywhere in between. Fractures vary widely in terms of type and severity.
Medical professionals usually classify fractures into one of the following categories:
- Single Fracture: This is the term for a bone that is broken in only one place.
- Complete Fracture: This describes a bone that is clearly broken into two separate pieces.
- Bending Fracture: This term refers to a bone that has an unusual bend but does not actually crack. This is rare but may occur in children.
- Hairline Fracture: This describes a situation where there is a thin break in a bone, but the bone is not completely broken.
- Greenstick Fracture: This refers to a break that is limited to only one side of a bone. Although the bone is broken, the break does not go across the entire bone.
- Comminuted Fracture: Also called a shattering fracture or crushed bone fracture, this term describes a bone that is broken into more than two pieces. Often, traumatic events like automobile accidents cause this type of fracture.
- Open Fracture: This type of fracture, where the bone penetrates the skin, usually results from significant trauma, such as a serious automobile collision or gunshot wound. Typically, an open fracture requires surgery and creates a risk of infection to the bone and the area surrounding the wound.
Treatment of Broken Bones
For serious breaks, the most common treatment methods are reductions and casts.
To treat a fracture, a physician may need to perform a reduction, a procedure that lines up the broken pieces of the bone and sets them back into place so the bone can heal properly. After a reduction procedure, the natural regenerative qualities of the bone will cause it to unify at the spot of the fracture. The cells on the ends of the bones and the blood vessels cause this healing process to occur over time.
Some reductions are classified as closed reductions and others as open reductions.
A closed reduction can cause the bone pieces to unify and heal, usually without surgery.
Severe fractures, like a comminuted fracture or an open fracture, require a surgical procedure called an open reduction. The procedure often involves the placement of “hardware,” such as pins, metal plates or metal rods, to hold the badly broken bones together while they heal.
After the bones heal, the doctor may do another surgery to remove the metal pieces. In other cases, the hardware remains in place to ensure the integrity of the injured bone.
Regardless of the type of fracture that you or a loved one may have suffered, medical science has made tremendous strides in providing treatments to minimize the damage caused.
Casts are the most common tool used to help a fracture heal. Today, casts are made of many different types of material, including the traditional plaster variety, as well as modern materials like fiberglass. The purpose of a cast is to immobilize the broken bone(s) and eliminate or reduce motions that could worsen the fracture while it is healing.
When a cast comes off, it often leaves behind dry and peeling skin. The muscles in that area may appear visibly weaker, due to lack of use during the healing process. To rebuild muscle strength, seek medical advice on specific exercises that will strengthen the affected area without causing further injury to the healing bone.
Sometimes, injury victims need additional tools to help themselves get back on their feet after a bad fracture. These can include walking aid such as a cane, crutches or walker. To be safe and effective, the walking aide must be the proper height and dimensions of the person using it. Always consult a physician before using one of these assistive devices to ensure that it is the appropriate kind of aide and the right size for your particular needs.
Malpractice Claims for Broken Bones and Fractures
Some people, such as the elderly, are more susceptible to fractures, but Illinois law does not consider the condition of the injured person when the injury is the result of negligence on the part of another party or entity.
Here are some examples of broken bone injuries that could be caused by a negligent physician or other medical practitioners:
- During the birth process, a baby’s skull can be fractured by excessive force to the baby’s head from forceps, suction or other causes. A fractured skull can also cause brain damage, which can result in serious and lifelong disability.
- If a doctor or other healthcare provider causes a broken bone or makes an existing fracture worse, there could be cause for a medical malpractice claim.
- A cast that was incorrectly or unnecessarily applied, or left on too long, can result in Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), also called Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).This is a serious neurological condition that can result in chronic pain and long-term disability.
Broken Bones Caused by Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Falls are one of the leading causes of injury for residents in nursing homes and other assisted living facilities. While most nursing homes and the caregivers they employ strive to provide proper care, some facilities do not have the time or budget to implement and maintain safety precautions such as adequate lighting, comprehensive staff training, and effective security measures. Caregivers can be overworked or improperly trained.
Here are some of the steps nursing homes can take to minimize the risk of falls:
- Identify residents who are most at risk of falling and place signs near their beds and give them special bracelets or other identifying accessories to wear.
- Monitor patients that are identified as high-risk more carefully and more often.
- Lower beds to reduce the risk of falling out of bed, and place foam mats on the floor next to the bed to reduce the risk of injury should a fall occur.
- Train staff members in fall prevention methods, including approved procedures for transferring patients in and out of beds, chairs, and wheelchairs will also help reduce falls.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury that included broken bones as the result of negligence on the part of a nursing home, hospital, doctor or medical practitioner, contact us immediately.
Our experienced medical malpractice legal team is ready to evaluate your situation and help you obtain the compensation you and your family deserve.