Misdiagnosis of a scaphoid fracture of the wrist - Taylor&Emmet LLP | Sheffield Solicitors

Misdiagnosis of a scaphoid fracture of the wrist

The scaphoid bone is one of the carpal bones in the hand, by the wrist. Our clinical & medical negligence solicitors offer a free consultation.

The scaphoid bone is one of the carpal bones in the hand, by the wrist. It is small and is the most common carpal bone to break. A fracture of the scaphoid bone can sometimes remain undetected by medical professionals and misdiagnosed as a sprain. It is possible to miss a scaphoid fracture on an X-ray and this can lead to future complications, prolonged healing and the possibility of surgery.

The scaphoid bone is situated between the bottom of your thumb and the wrist, between the trapezium and lunate bones. It links the two rows of small carpal bones in your hand and helps to stabilise them. Together with the lunate bone, it also connects with the larger radius bone at the joint in your wrist.

A scaphoid fracture is often caused by falling onto an outstretched hand, with weight landing on the palm as you instinctively try to protect yourself. The injury can also occur as a result of repeated stress, caused by some sports or by a direct blow to the palm of the hand.

If you have fractured your scaphoid bone, you will usually have pain and swelling at the base of your thumb that may increase when you try to move it or the wrist to grip or pick something up. It is only when this pain is still present weeks later and full movement hasn’t returned that further investigation may diagnose a fracture.


It is very important to recognise and treat a scaphoid fracture as soon as possible as complications are more likely to develop following a delay. These can include:

Non-union of the bone:

This is when the bone has failed to heal at all. It is more likely if treatment is delayed by misdiagnosis and may require a cast to be worn for a longer period, or even surgery to help join the fragments. A bone graft may be needed to help the fracture heal.


When the fragments of bone heal in an incorrect position, you may find it difficult to grip or hold objects and may still have pain in your wrist. This can also be caused by a delay in diagnosis and treatment and corrective surgery could be required to re-set and re-align the bone. A graft could also be necessary to encourage healing.

Avascular necrosis:

This is when the blood supply to the bone becomes disrupted. If one of the fractured pieces does not have a sufficient blood supply, it does not get enough nutrients and dies. This can be seen on an X-ray and can be treated with a graft.


If you have fractured your scaphoid bone, you may be at risk of developing arthritis in the future, causing pain and decreased range of movement in your wrist. If there has been a delay in treating your fracture and you have suffered a complication, such as non-union or avascular necrosis as a result, the risk increases.

Can I claim

If you feel that you have suffered due a missed diagnosis or delay in treating a scaphoid fracture, please contact Taylor&Emmet to discuss your treatment. We would be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have.

You could be entitled to compensation for the following, if they result from your injury:

  • Pain, suffering and loss of amenity
  • Medical and nursing care costs
  • Loss of earnings
  • The cost of painkillers
  • Travel expenses
  • Any other costs arising from your injury

We will treat your no obligation enquiry with total confidence and we will do our utmost to help.

See if we can help you 

If you are interested in understanding how Taylor&Emmet can help you with your medical negligence claim then please contact:

James Drydale

James Drydale

Partner - Clinical Negligence

0114 218 4058

Email: james.drydale@tayloremmet.co.uk

Office: Sheffield

Contact James Drydale or meet my team


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