"Bad experience with orthopaedics at Homerton Hospital"

About: Homerton University Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as the patient),

Back in October 2007, I started experiencing pain and swelling on the inside of my right ankle post my normal session at the gym (running and cross-training).

I went to my GP, who sent me to Homerton (my local hospital). Having been told it was nothing more than a sprain, I then got a call later that day asking me to come back to the fracture clinic for a suspected break in my ankle.

I went back, to be told there was no fracture, advised it was a sprain and sent away with crutches and an ankle brace. I also received a physio referral. My follow-up was scheduled for 6 weeks later.

On seeing the physio, she decided that the problem in my ankle was too acute for treatment - and tried to get me an urgent referral back to the fracture clinic. No Joy. After six weeks in the brace I had no improvement, so returned to the fracture clinic where they diagnosed inflammation of the tendon sheath and placed me in plaster for 3 weeks.

After 3 weeks (still no great improvement) I returned to the fracture clinic - where my stories of pain and my still swollen ankle were met with blank looks and a range of four possible diagnoses. I felt that they really just wanted to get rid of me as this was a slightly unusual case that couldn't be dealt with easily. Eventually (after they wanted to discharge me and I burst into tears on the consultant) and with much reluctance, they scheduled an MRI for 8 weeks time - the earliest possible appt.

At this point my patience snapped and I claimed on my private medical insurance. I saw a consultant who diagnosed my problem within 5 minutes of examining me - I had a ruptured posterior tibial tendon in my right ankle. MRI confirmed this and emergency surgery was scheduled, from which I'm now recovering. If this problem hadn't been dealt with the arch in my foot would have collapsed, leading to possible disability.

What makes me very angry is that it took private medical care and one consultant to diagnose this - the nurse practitioner, doctor, registrar and three consultants I had seen over my various visits to the Homerton had not even mentioned it as a possibility. My private consultant told me that the tendon was almost completely ruptured, and would certainly have gone in the 8 weeks I would have waited for an MRI at the Homerton.

I'm very lucky - I get private health care as part of my job package. What about the people that don't? How many other injuries and illnesses are being missed by Homerton Orthopaedics department? The thought terrifies me. Best of luck to anyone else who ends up in my situation.

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