Dr. Josh Abzug, director of pediatric orthopedics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, has discovered that of 275 children seen in his clinic, 90% of those who were treated for broken bones in the emergency room were incorrectly splinted. Many times, the elastic bandages on the splint were wound too tightly, cutting off circulation, or the splint ended in the wrong spot for optimal healing.
In particular regards to leg and ankle fractures, the child’s foot was immobilized at an incorrect angle, which can cause serious problems once the splint or cast comes off.
Dr. Abzug explained, "With a broken ankle, you want to splint the foot about 90 degrees to the lower leg, so that three or four weeks down the road, when the child is ready to walk, her foot is nice and flat, instead of pointed at the wrong angle."
What’s behind the problem with ER splinting? “I think it's purely a lack of education in some cases, or a lack of attention to detail," Abzug explained.
I could not agree more with Dr. Abzug. ER physicians must have general knowledge about every injury, but may not be specialists in injuries of the foot and ankle, unlike a podiatrist. For that reason, if you suspect your child has a sprained or broken foot or ankle and you want to ensure that they heal correctly, head to Dr. Andrew Schneider’s office instead of the emergency room for a full work-up, including x-rays and casting as needed.