Why didn’t doctors at the QEH in King’s Lynn spot our baby had a broken ankle, ask couple from Walton Highway, near Wisbech

Tina Dickens and Graham McIntosh with baby Dalton.

Tina Dickens and Graham McIntosh with baby Dalton. - Credit: Archant

Doctors sent a baby home from A&E without spotting he had a broken ankle.

Little Dalton McIntosh, who has broken his ankle.

Little Dalton McIntosh, who has broken his ankle. - Credit: Archant

But the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn, has defended its procedures, saying fractures in young children are not always immediately obvious and its 'safety net' meant the injury was detected later.

Little Dalton McIntosh, who is a year old, hurt his leg when his 52-year-old father Graham McIntosh fell on top of his baby walker.

'I scooped him up, he was crying quite a lot and you could see the leg was swollen up,' said Dalton's mother Tina Dickens, 44.

'I put a cold compress on it and took him to Wisbech Hospital. We saw the nurse and she said they couldn't X-ray him there because they can't X-ray under-twos, so we took him up to King's Lynn.'


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Doctors at the QEH examined Dalton, before telling Ms Dickens of School Road, Walton Highway, near Wisbech, she could take hime home. 'They took two x-rays of the right leg, two of the left leg and one of the pelvis area so they took five altogether,' she said. 'They said it was soft tissue damage.'

Mr McIntosh and Ms Dickens took Dalton home, where he continued to have trouble crawling and seemed to be in pain.

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'It looked like he'd broken something, because it was quite swollen,' she said. 'If you touched it, it hurt him and he started crying.'

On Saturday, Ms Dickens received a phone call from the hospital.

'They said he had two breaks around the ankle area,' she said. 'When I asked why they missed them, they said they didn't know. But they said small breakages can be missed, it does happen.'

On Saturday, August 3 - four days after he was originally seen, Dalton returned to the QEH to have his ankle re-examined. The following Monday, he went back to have a small cast fitted. The tot is now recovering and playing with his twin Duane-Lee and five bigger brothers and sisters.

'We took him back on the Saturday and I had a heated discussion with them,' said Ms Dickens. 'I wanted to know how it happened, they said they didn't know.

'I made it quite clear we were not happy. Very not happy. I want an apology. If I don't get a response, the solicitor will get involved. We will be taking it further. End of.'

But Paul Cullen, clinical director for emergency services at the QEH, said: 'When a patient arrives as an emergency and it is felt that an X-ray is needed, the requesting clinician will be required to make a diagnosis based on their interpretation of the X-ray. Occasionally, particularly in children, small fractures may not be readily apparent and may only become visible sometime after the injury.

'Our routine practice is that an experienced radiologist will study the X-ray later in much greater detail and provide a written report back to the requesting team, usually within 24 hours. If it has become clear that further treatment may be necessary we contact the patient or their carer and ask for them to return for further assessment and treatment, which is what happened in this case.

'All X-rays are examined in detail by our radiology team to ensure that nothing is overlooked. The fact that an injury was later detected in this particular case demonstrates the safety nets we have in place and that the system is very thorough and works well.'

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