Old School Liability
July 21, 2008 by The Constant Complainer
I’d like to tell you a true story about a young boy. This boy was at a Cub Scout event and was playing capture the flag. He accidentally got tackled and hurt his right hip. It was sore, but he kept playing with his friends. He went home and told his parents that he hurt his leg.
The boy’s parents called his pediatrician the next morning. The boy went in for an appointment. The doctor checked him out, did some mobility tests and declared the injury to be a pulled muscle. She indicated the boy would be fine in a few weeks. No x-rays or prescriptions needed! Excellent, the boy thought. He had two more baseball games upcoming.
The first game was later that week. At that game, the boy was the pitcher and played the game of his life – sore leg and all. He pitched nearly the entire game, but unfortunately had to be removed due to his leg pain. The boy tried to ice his leg that following week. He took it easy and tried to help the muscle pull heal in time for the next game.
The next game day arrived and the boy was playing first base. He was visibly still in pain, but he kept playing. In the last inning, he was up to bat and hit a ground ball. As he tried to run to first base, his hip was so sore that he couldn’t. A parent in the stands, angry that the boy seemed to be walking to first base, yelled out “he can barely run, take him out” and several other parents (fans) agreed. The boy’s father was sitting there and heard this. He decided right then and there to take the boy to the emergency room.
At the hospital, an orthopedic surgeon determined that the boy had actually broken his hip playing capture the flag at Cub Scouts. But he didn’t realize it. And his pediatrician had misdiagnosed him because the tests she ran were inadequate.
That 13-year-old boy was me.
You know, 20 years later, not a day goes by when I don’t think about how my life was changed forever due to this injury and the doctor’s misdiagnosis. My hip was not only broken, but playing baseball and two weeks of day-to-day activities had irreparably damaged my leg permanently.
I had to have two hip surgeries and one knee surgery. I was on crutches for six months and had to use a cane for three months. To this day I have back pain because my leg’s growth was stunted. Now I walk off-balance, I have to wear special inserts in my shoes and I see a chiropractor regularly.
This happened 20 years ago. I suspect had this happened in 2008, my parents probably could have sued the pediatrician, the Cub Scouts, the orthopedic surgeon or the kid that tackled me. However, back in the 80’s, we just accepted the doctor’s mistake and moved on. But like I said, not a day goes by when I don’t think about what happened.
The reason this is on my mind is because I recently wondered if that same pediatrician was still practicing medicine. So I made a few calls. Not only is she still practicing medicine, but she is still at that exact same office. Irrationally thinking, of course I just want to call her and scream at her – as a thank you for 20 years of hip, knee and back pain. In the same breath though, I feel the time is well overdue to let it go. I’m sure her answer would be that she did the tests she thought she should have back then. Or maybe I should have gone to the emergency room when I was first injured. I didn’t think I needed to. I was a young kid and thought I could walk it off. To this day I wonder how I walked around and played baseball with a broken hip. It seems unheard of, but it happened.
I guess what ticks me off is that I’m just another statistic in the area of medical malpractice. But that doesn’t easy my pain any – that’s for sure.