I came across a sad story from England this week that I wanted to share with you to emphasize the importance of taking your children to a podiatrist for any foot or ankle problems. As the story goes, a mother in England took her son to the hospital emergency room after a fall at home left him with foot pain. At the hospital, the young boy was examined and sent home with a diagnosis of a sprain; as it turned out, the toddler had actually broken his leg.
According to reports, almost-two-year old Keigan Van Dyk fell at home and his mother, Julia McAuley, rushed him to Lagan Valley Hospital . While there, Keigan was given an x-ray of his ankle; since the doctors couldn't find anything wrong with it, they told his mother he had most likely sprained his ankle and she should give him Calpol (the British version of children’s Tylenol) if he was in pain.
The poor baby was hurting and crying all night, so the next morning, his dad took him to a different hospital, where an x-ray finally revealed that he had a hairline fracture in his tibia bone.
His mom has spoken angrily about the mistake, saying, “I told the doctor he had hurt his leg but I didn't know where exactly and Keigan couldn't tell us. He couldn't put his foot to the ground.” Her outrage and the thought of a helpless child experiencing extra, unnecessary pain have helped the story go viral quickly.
As a podiatrist in Houston, I was clearly not involved in the treatment the toddler received at either the first or second hospital he visited, so I can not comment directly on the care he was given or the initial misdiagnosis of his fracture.
What I can say, however, is that hairline fractures can be difficult to catch, particularly in young children who cannot pinpoint the location of their pain. For general physicians who do not specialize in children’s foot care, I could see how it might be easy to misdiagnose a break if an initial x-ray turned up clean.
As parents, the thought of our children spending even an extra second in pain is awful. We want to make our children’s boo-boos, big or small, stop hurting the second they happen. Since our youngest kids often cannot speak for themselves, I highly recommend visiting a podiatrist like myself in the event that your child has suffered any kind of foot or ankle injury. At Tanglewood Foot Specialists, my experience in diagnosing children’s foot injuries will prevent your kids from going through a terrible experience like poor Keigan Van Dyk.