Toddler’s re-dislocated hip not identified for months by surgeon

Source: 1News

An orthopaedic surgeon has apologised after failing to identify a toddler in his care had re-dislocated their hip despite multiple X-rays being taken.

Male traumatologist looking at patient leg x-ray, diagnostic health problem

A report by Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) Kevin Allan today outlined the case, finding Northland DHB and the surgeon in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights.

The toddler involved was originally diagnosed with developmental dysplasia of the hip after he began walking with a limp. The visits with the surgeon took place from October 2017 to December 2018.

"The orthopaedic surgeon subsequently performed corrective surgery and the toddler had a cast applied. Following the surgery, the toddler attended appointments with the orthopaedic surgeon on multiple occasions to check his progress and change his cast," the report states.

However, despite taking X-rays at each cast changing, the surgeon failed to realise the toddler had re-dislocated their hip. This failure was not identified for several months despite concerns from radiologists over the X-rays.

The report states that the Deputy Commissioner found the orthopaedic surgeon failed to perform a CT scan after surgery, failed to interpret several X-rays correctly and failed to review several radiologists’ reports that identified the dislocated hip.

"This report highlights the importance of clinicians interpreting X-rays correctly, reading radiologists’ reports and investigating concerning clinical features," Allan said.

"All of these factors should have prompted the surgeon to investigate the toddler’s hip further."

Allan made recommendations to stop a similar incident from happening in the future and noted that Northland DHB and the surgeon had written an apology to the toddler's family.