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The Importance of Early Diagnosis - Congenital Dislocation of the Hip

Congenital Dislocation of the hip (CDH) can cause life-long disability if it remains undiagnosed and untreated.  A child who had a congenital dislocation of the hip which went undiagnosed until she was six has recently made a successful claim against her G.P.  The case came before the Court recently and the Judge had to consider if the diagnosis of CDH should have been made earlier.  The Judge emphasised the importance of detecting CDH as soon as possible, and concluded that this should have been well recognised at the time that this patient was a baby (1988).  The G.P.s involved should have been aware of the signs that they needed to look out for when screening infants and if they had any suspicions that CDH might be present, should have carried out a follow-up check and made referral to an Orthopaedic Specialist. 

Those further investigations and referral had not taken place in this case, even though the G.P. had noted when examining the baby at seven weeks old that her hips were rather stiff. 

Although it can be difficult to detect CDH in the early weeks of the baby’s life, it was clear that here there had been some cause for concern.  It was important that if the Doctor had had any residual concern after a follow up check, that there should either have been an immediate referral to an Orthopaedic Specialist or re-examination within two to three weeks.  Failure to do this was negligent.

Medical experts agree that the earlier that CDH is diagnosed, the better the likely outcome.  In this case by the time diagnosis was made, the child had a full dislocation of the right hip whereas prompt diagnosis and treatment would probably have prevented any disability until well into middle age.

If you are concerned that you may have suffered from poor treatment with regard to diagnosis of Congenital Hip Dislocation then please contact the Clinical Negligence Department at Lanyon Bowdler.  The Clinical Negligence Team have previously obtained compensation for clients who have had undiagnosed CDH, and have the expertise to deal with this issue and would be happy to advise further.