Broken Neck Mistaken For Whiplash



A hospital has apologised to a road crash victim after he was diagnosed with whiplash when he had in fact suffered a broken neck.

A report found that an X-ray should have been ordered on the unnamed student, who was sent home from Stirling Royal Infirmary with painkillers following the misdiagnosis.

The man had attended the hospital complaining of "excruciating" neck pains after his car rolled into a verge while travelling at between 40mph and 50mph. A senior house doctor diagnosed whiplash and sent him home with ibuprofen, cocodamol and an exercise leaflet for neck pain sufferers.

The student fainted later that day and returned to hospital where he was seen by the same doctor who confirmed her original diagnosis. The fact that his neck was broken was only discovered when he visited an osteopath several weeks later and an X-ray was called for.

The man subsequently under went an operation last September where metal pins and bolts were inserted into his neck, as well as bone grafted from his hip.

The report by Scottish Public Services ombudsman Alice Brown cited a professional medical advisor, who concluded that the treatment he received on the day of the accident was "inadequate and fell below the standards required".

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Georgina Sheldon from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "This case highlights the importance of carefully performed clinical examinations. Unfortunately, we see many clients whose broken bones have been misdiagnosed and inappropriately treated, despite examinations having been undertaken. As a result, patients are left with ongoing symptoms that could have been avoided had the injury been properly diagnosed and treated at the outset."