"I broke my collarbone (clavicle ..."

About: University College Hospital

(as the patient),

What could be improved

I broke my collarbone (clavicle fracture) and was seen by A&E in early April. They said the break was clean and should have little problem healing. I was experiencing a lot of pain and A&E recommended ibuprofen as a pain-killer which I then took for two weeks while I waited for an appointment at the fracture clinic...

Unfortunately A&E had not spoken to the fracture clinic, so I was unable to get an appointment in the time frame advised and had to wait a week longer than planned. When I was seen by fracture clinic they told me ibuprofen stopped bone healing and was not recommended.

On subsequent follow up appointments bone healing has been very slow and I'm advised it may now not heal. Annoyingly two consultants suggested that I had been smoking or taking ibuprofen as the reason the bone had not healed. I've never smoked in my life and only took ibuprofen in the first two weeks as advised by A&E.

I've now got six weeks to wait until the next appointment and hope that the bone has made some progress. Reading about bone healing online two pieces of information stand-out:

1. Key period of healing is 10-14 days after injury - precisely the time I was taking ibuprofen as recommended by A&E

2. Nutrition can play a big part, so no red-meat, salt, sugar or alcohol. I would have appreciated getting this advice earlier when more progress could have been made in healing.

Anything else?

Hopefully I won't need surgery to plate the bone. Sadly, if they had plated it shortly after the injury I would now be healed and able to swim this summer. Unfortunately at the moment, neither is the case.

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Response from University College Hospital

We were sorry to read about the difficulties that you experienced in booking your fracture clinic appointment, and the conflicting information that you received about ibuprofen. As a direct result of your comments, our A&E and Orthopaedic consultants are meeting to agree a protocol on the use of ibuprofen for patients who have suffered a fracture. You may be interested to know that there is actually no clear clinical consensus on the use of ibuprofen, as the clinical evidence regarding its effect on bone healing is inconclusive. Colleagues from the A&E and Orthopaedic departments are also working on improving the process and information transfer for patients who require fracture clinic follow-up following an injury. I do hope that you have continued to recover from your injury. If you would like to contact us to discuss your experiences in more detail, please contact the PALS department on 020 7380 9975 .

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