Thousands of NHS patients whose fractures were repaired with a metal plate have to check their X-ray images after a hospital change. Some patients received implants that may buckle.

Around 5,500 patients who have had limb fracture plates installed since February 2018 are now under review, said NHS Improvement and the British Orthopedic Association.

Checks are required after seven incidents with a single trust repairing long fractures such as the forearm, upper arm (humerus), tibia (tibia) or thigh (femur) with the wrong plate.

In one case, one patient fell and the plate collapsed, which meant that another operation was required. In another case, one more patient had to undergo surgery after his plate failed in postoperative physiotherapy.

NHS Improvement states that the recent changes in the designs of some reconstruction panels have resulted in two panels, reconstitution panels and dynamic compression panels, now being similar in appearance.

Additionally the affected patients had been treated by more than one surgeon, suggesting it could have happened elsewhere, although the risk to patients is low.

"We are asking all hospitals in England who provide orthopaedic surgery to review X-rays for their patients who have had surgery involving plates in the past year," NHS Improvement national director for patient safety Dr Aidan Fowler said.

"Patients should not be alarmed and do not need to take any action themselves.

"The risk of harm is low and their local hospital will contact them if there is a chance that they have been affected."

It is estimated that 30 to 40 patients at each trust in England could have had a plate fitted – which could amount to more than 5,500 patients needing a review, NHS Improvement said.

Dynamic compression plates, which are used for some fractures, are stronger and more rigid than reconstruction plates. The latter are more flexible as they may need to be reshaped for use in more complex surgery.

Fractures can take up to a year to heal but people treated more than a year ago are unlikely to pose further problems.

Additional reporting by PA


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