Hospital doctors failed to diagnose a fractured foot twice

Borders General Hospital
Borders General Hospital

A series of recommendations have been made following Borders General Hospital’s failure to diagnose a fractured foot on two separate occasions.

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman upheld a complaint made on behalf of Mrs A that doctors at the hospitals failed to identify a fractured bone in her foot after she attended A&E on two occasions. When the pain persisted for months Mrs A’s doctor referred her to an orthopaedic specialist and a scan identified the fractures.

In responding to the complaint, NHS Borders said that the initial x-rays were reported appropriately.

The ombudsman added: “However, in a late stage of our investigation the board reviewed the x-ray images and acknowledged there were failings in the fracture being identified by radiology and that the A&E department failed to review the radiology reports, which had shown abnormalities.

“We found that there had been failings by the A&E locum doctors who had reviewed Ms A. Specifically, their record-keeping and assessments were below a reasonable standard given the background to Ms A’s injury and inability to bear weight.

“We were critical that the A&E department had not reviewed the radiology reports, which were abnormal. Furthermore, we found that both x-rays did show the fracture. We also considered that it was unreasonable that on each occasion she attended A&E, Ms A was not provided with crutches or given a follow-up appointment.

NHS Borders is being recommended to discuss their practices with the medical staff involved, improve patient management systems and issue guidance for A&E teams to follow-up patients who are unable to weight bear after an injury.

The ombudsman also recommended that the health board apologise to Mrs A for the failings that had been identified.