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Fracture Medical Negligence
Conservative Fracture Treatment

Conservative Fracture Treatment

When treating a shoulder or other joint fracture, medical professionals have a duty to discuss the options with a patient, explaining the prognostic factors of each treatment plan and its consequences. This ensures that a patient is part of the decision making process, and can then make an informed decision as to what course of treatment should be provided.

If this consultation does not occur and a patient is treated conservatively, despite the fact that surgery would have been a reasonable option, the level of care will be considered unacceptable and may lead to a successful claim for compensation.

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When should doctors choose the conservative approach?

When a patient is diagnosed with a fracture, a doctor must fulfil two main objectives:-

1. Reduce a patient's pain and make them as comfortable as possible until the fracture heals;

2. Manage the injury in such a way that allows the joint function to be regained as best as possible.

To achieve these goals, medical professionals must assess the injury and the patient's individual circumstances before recommending a treatment plan to the patient. This will either involve a conservative approach (whereby medical intervention is not provided) or anatomical reconstruction something which often necessitates some form of surgery.

Studies have shown that a patient has the best chance of complete restoration of function if anatomical reconstruction is performed. However, this might not be appropriate for all patients. Indeed, some patients are old and frail, and may not tolerate anaesthetics and surgery. Other patients are young and fit and will be prepared to undergo surgery in order to give themselves the very best chance of regaining their pre-accident level of functioning.

Because of these considerations, an identical fracture may be treated in very different ways depending upon the lifestyle of the patient concerned. Either way, it is the duty of medical professionals to discuss each approach with the patient, thereby ensuring the patient can take part in the decision-making process and give informed consent.

What if doctors did not consult you when devising a treatment plan?

If this conversation between you and your treating doctors did not take place, meaning you were denied surgical intervention, you need to question why this occurred. It may be that medical professionals assessed your health and decided that you were not fit for surgery.

However, if there is no reasonable explanation for withholding anatomical reconstruction, and this has compromised your joint function, you may grounds for a compensation claim. This is because in failing to consult you, and in failing to provide an appropriate course of treatment, the level of care will be deemed unacceptable. If you have subsequently suffered as a result, you will be considered the victim of medical negligence. You will therefore be entitled to claim compensation for the damages you have wrongfully incurred.

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