Patient safety alert concerning the wrong selection of orthopaedic fracture fixation plates

Patient safety alert concerning the wrong selection of orthopaedic fracture fixation plates

On 11th February 2019, a Patient Safety Alert was issued to all NHS funded organisations responsible for fracture repair surgery. The review and actions identified in the Patient Safety Alert are due for completion by 10th May 2019.

The alert concerns all patients fitted with a plate for the treatment of long bone shaft fractures after 1st February 2018. A review is now underway of patient x-rays to ensure the correct plate was used to stabilise fractures of the humerus, forearm, femur or tibia.

Different types of fracture fixation plates are used in orthopaedic surgery including dynamic compression plates and reconstruction plates. These plates are not interchangeable and they have different properties, including their rigidity and strength.

Recently, there have been reports of multiple incidents of reconstruction plates being used in error instead of dynamic compression plates.  In two of the reported cases the plate failed, one following a fall and the other following rehabilitation physiotherapy.

If the wrong type of plate is fitted, a patient is at risk until their fractures have fully healed and potentially, they may require corrective surgery. Any plates fitted more than 12 months ago do not require investigation for the purposes of this particular alert as the fractures would have fully healed.

Tracy Brimelow, part of the Medical Negligence team at M R Law comments:

“Dr Aidan Fowler, the National Director for patient safety has assured patients they should not be alarmed and do not need to take any action themselves. He confirmed the risk of harm is low and their local hospital will contact them if there is a chance they have been affected.

However, if you have any concerns regarding fracture repair treatment you have received after 1st February 2018 then you may choose to contact both the treating hospital and your own GP for help and medical advice.”

If you have suffered complications arising from any form of orthopaedic treatment, please contact our specialist medical negligence team to speak directly to a qualified and experienced lawyer.

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