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School first aiders missed a broken arm..

(149 Posts)
NatalieMc82 Thu 05-Jun-14 14:37:09

My youngest son fell in the playground at lunchtime yesterday (he is 7) and suffered a minor fracture to his arm. I am not blaming the school for the injury - boys fall over - but despite the fact that he saw 2 different first aiders nobody realised the seriousness or phoned home. Because of this he was left with no pain relief of medical attention. It was obvious as soon as I he got home and I asked the usual questions: could he flex his wrist? make a fist? wriggle his fingers? and the answer to all the above was NO that a visit to casualty was in order. There was also clear swelling compared to the uninjured arm. A and E were fabulous and x-rays confirmed a 'buckle' fracture. But am I being unreasonable by saying the school could and should have done more?

NoodleOodle Thu 05-Jun-14 14:40:46

Did they ask those questions? Was the answer no at the time?

I broke my arm at school once, during a hockey match in fact - I continued to play the rest of the match. My arm didn't really hurt until the early hours of the morning, and it was only then after a few hours that my arm was noticeably broken and I went to A&E for treatment.

So, whether they were unreasonable or not, well... it depends.

WorraLiberty Thu 05-Jun-14 14:41:12

Aww poor thing. Hope he's feeling better now flowers

It's difficult with fractures because often the swelling doesn't happen until long after the injury.

sunshinecity17 Thu 05-Jun-14 14:42:04

It is often impossible even for an experienced A&E doctor to determine whether there is a fracture or not.That is why they x rayed your kid.

ShatnersBassoon Thu 05-Jun-14 14:43:01

Do you suspect they were deliberately negligent?

MrsCakesPremonition Thu 05-Jun-14 14:51:24

What would you like the school to have done?
It wouldn't hurt for them to check that their procedures OK and being followed.

However, fractures in children are notoriously hard to identify.

SistersOfPercy Thu 05-Jun-14 14:51:28

DD fell and fractured her knee at an Air Cadet camp on a night exercise. She was seen by 2 first aiders, both ex RAF who suspected a twisted knee and ligament damage.
When the swelling didn't go down she was seen by our GP who diagnosed ligament damage.
Some 3 weeks later an xray revealed she'd fractured her knee.

Fractures are, as sunshine says hard to diagnose and with the best will in the world it's almost impossible to tell a child has one.

Hope he's feeling better soon flowers

NatalieMc82 Thu 05-Jun-14 14:52:48

He is adamant that he was not asked these questions, and was only given an ice pack. Obviously the school are disputing this.
I'm not expecting the school to make the diagnosis at all, simply to err on the side of caution and contact home and allow a parent to make the decision as to whether medical treatment is necessary, especially when the child is clearly in pain and distress.
Also shocked to find out that first aid training is not compulsory for primary teachers.. (Maybe I had been naïve but had assumed they would have this.)

BreakingDad77 Thu 05-Jun-14 14:55:25

Kid could have been running on adrenaline and didn't notice it till later, I think niece went to A and E and they missed a fracture in ankle so.....

Like above maybe a check of first aid, but these things happen.

Mrsjayy Thu 05-Jun-14 14:57:30

Tbf on the school it can take a while to detect a break dd fell hurt her wrist and it was sore but didnt swell till the next day,

Mrsjayy Thu 05-Jun-14 14:58:52

I do think they could have phoned you but maybe your son wasnt that upset iyswim

phantomnamechanger Thu 05-Jun-14 15:01:31

these things easily happen OP, the staff don't have xray vision you know! he was obviously not screaming/vomiting/passing out with the pain and managed to soldier on at school. many a parent has missed things like this and only after a day or so sought medical advice. they probably feel awful about it but it really is just one of those things and you need to get over it.

Mrsjayy Thu 05-Jun-14 15:04:17

I didnt take dd to the drs till the monday she fell on the saturday night blush but it lookec ok till the sunday afternoon

justaweeone Thu 05-Jun-14 15:07:21

A school will have appointed first aiders, often it is support staff and often some teachers as well. Most first aid is administered by the support staff.
They are 'first aiders' not health care professionals. And they haven't X-ray vision which I feel some parents think they have .With out knowing exactly what happened it is difficult to comment, however a phone home is sometimes made depending on their assessment.
Hope your son is ok

redskyatnight Thu 05-Jun-14 15:10:04

Triage at A&E missed DD's broken leg. I don't think it's always that obvious.

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 05-Jun-14 15:14:34

I missed two fractures on DD's friend the other day I felt the arm got her to move it etc. She said it didn't really hurt. I do orthopaedic surgery in other speciesconfused. Her mum only took her to hospital when she couldn't sleep as it ached a bit.

gorionine Thu 05-Jun-14 15:16:40

OP, the first aid we receive in school does not really allow us to diagnose fracture. It is difficult even for hospital staff at time to do so.)
We usually:
- ask where the pain is
- look for swollen, bruised, redness on limb
- check for movement (similar questions as in your OP)
- compare with other limb to see if they look any different.

When unsure, we always ask another person to check and when we cannot agree but child visibly in pain we either keep an eye on it frequently during the day or recommend for the child parents to be called and they either say "I'll come and pick John" or "It's ok it doesn't seem too bad".

Some children have a higher pain threshold and decide for themselves they are ok and just run back out after having ice on for 3 minutes. so far in my 'career' we had 3 such cases who turned up to school on the following day with casts on because the injury was more severe than what they had let on.

I missed my own son's broken thumb in school and subsequently so did the A&E doctor after school (by then it had swollen considerably but was not in the first couple of hours after injury took place. I was called the following day by a consultant asking me to bring DS back because he spotted a fracture on his X-ray that his colleagues had missed.

I would find it really bad if the school staff had not ask any questions but put ice on it anyway. It does not make much sense to me.

Wishing your son a speedy recovery.

YouTheCat Thu 05-Jun-14 15:16:47

We are not instructed how to diagnose broken arms on first aid courses, nor are we issued with x-ray vision.

Tangerinefairy Thu 05-Jun-14 15:18:13

Your poor son, that must be really painful. Is he very quiet and uncomplaining? Only asking because I broke my arm at school once and had a thing about "never crying at school" so hardly let out a peep till I got home! It was so painful though! Am happy to say that I haven't missed a broken bone in many years of teaching but I'm not saying I never would!

It's a tricky one. Strange that they missed the swelling and inability to move it though, that does suggest a lack of first aid awareness. If I were the teachers or TA's involved in this situation I would probably be asking for further first aid training myself so I don't think yabu to say something even though I don't necessarily think they were bu by not noticing it. Hope he heals up well.

Mrsjayy Thu 05-Jun-14 15:18:43

Other dd broke her foot at school I took her just in case was broken in 2 places school first aider missed it just put qn ice pack on it, its really not the ir fault

CheeryName Thu 05-Jun-14 15:21:24

I do think schools should err on the side of reasonable caution. I've had school contact me when DS fell over and hurt his wrist, because they didn't know if it could be broken. He was in pain and obv not going to do any school work anyway so no point in him being there that afternoon. One x ray and some ibuprofen later and he turned out to be fine. But I am glad school contacted me.

NatalieMc82 Thu 05-Jun-14 15:21:27

Thank you to all who responded.
DS is better today, although still quiet and needing regular pain relief (and cuddles!)
Am certainly not expecting first aiders to have x-ray vision, just to follow procedure which is to inform parents after an accident (they have already admitted they failed to do this).
Also, agree many fractures are not obvious, however both myself and older son suspected such at first glance and casualty staff used x-ray simply to confirm and find position of break, so surely someone at school should have at least noticed there was something wrong?
I know I get my protective mummy bear hat on when my baby is crying in pain, but if I had left my cat like that I would be getting a visit from the RSPCA and this is a child!
Am just hoping to reach an outcome where training for school staff is improved and no other child goes through this..

CheeryName Thu 05-Jun-14 15:23:34

Then again, DS screams the place down for the tiniest thing, so school more likely to suspect damage I guess. DD would probably not make so much fuss and I think school would probably not call me as readily for her. Except when they told me she was looking very green, but that was leftover weekend party face paint ;)

YouTheCat Thu 05-Jun-14 15:24:17

But first aid courses don't cover that kind of thing. They cover initial treatment of burns/stroke/heart attack. They cover administering epipens. They cover things like doing chest compressions.

gorionine Thu 05-Jun-14 15:27:49

I hope you mean the NSPCC the RSPCA is for the protection of animals wink

I think it might make a small difference if they step up their first aid but school staff will never be medical staff IYSWIM?

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