When it comes to determining just how expensive medical costs of a broken leg may be, it helps to consider two factors: location and severity. If the break involves the hip, knee, or ankle joints, the fracture may be harder to treat and therefore more costly.
The amount required to spend on medical treatment also depends on the severity of the break in the bone. For example, sometimes legs are broken in such a way that a hip replacement is also necessary. A total hip replacement is considered major surgery, increasing the cost and time needed to recover.
Is the break a comminuted fracture? “Comminuted” means the bone is fragmented and broken in more than one place. Multiple breaks take longer to heal, and require more treatment. Generally, the more severe the break, the longer the recovery time. This, in turn, means higher medical bills. Plus, severe breaks often result in victims losing income as well, as they typically cannot perform their work duties until they have recovered from their injury.
Broken Legs Make for Expensive Hospital Stays
Any hospital stay is costly. Fracturing a leg bone normally increases the cost significantly. In fact, this type of break has been associated with the most expensive hospital stays. According to Business Insider, the average hospital stay costs about $10,000, based on a 2014 survey, but that same stay for a broken leg bone can raise expenses to nearly of $17,000
This article will explore how much it costs to break a leg in New York State. Medical and recovery costs vary depending on which leg bone is broken, the type of break, and the severity of the injury.
Locating the Break
The leg consists of the following three bones—the femur (thighbone) as well as the tibia and fibula (below the knee)—each with their own function. Treating breaks in any of these bones is fairly complex and often expensive. Here’s a brief description of these bones and their primary functions:
- Femur: Located in the thigh, the femur is the longest and strongest bone in the entire body, stretching from the hip to the knee joints. Sometimes a broken femur is referred to as a broken hip. That’s because it connects to the pelvis to form the hip joint. Also essential to motion is the femur’s lower area, which joins with the tibia to form the knee joint. A break at any point of the femur is debilitating and may require a metal rod implant to regain stability.
- Tibia: Located in the lower leg, the tibia is the long bone most likely to sustain a fracture or break through the skin, increasing the risk of infection. This bone has a big role in supporting the body’s weight, and it is well-suited for this task. The tibia is larger and thicker than its companion, the fibula.
- Fibula: The ankle and lower leg muscles get their stability from the fibula, the tibia’s smaller neighbor. The tibia looks to this outside bone for support. In most cases (75-85% of all cases, according to the Harvard Medical School) both the tibia and fibula will fracture together, complicating the road to recovery.
How Much Does Broken Femur Treatment Cost in New York?
When dealing with a femur fracture, the cost of treatment often begins with an ambulance ride. For a basic life support ambulance In New York, these typically cost between $415 to $450.
Next comes the hospital expense. The average Emergency Room visit in New York is $1,668 without insurance coverage. The insured could face an average co-pay of $250. If surgery is not required, the cost of treating a broken femur—including X-ray imaging and fitting a cast—has been estimated at $2,500 or more.
It’s common for any broken femur to require surgery to realign and reconnect the bone. Without health insurance, the cost of femur surgery can run $17,000 to $35,000 plus the surgeon’s fee—typically at least $2,000.
There is typically a one night hospital stay following hip surgery, which carries a cost of about $10,000 for the uninsured. That’s over $32,000 for surgery and hospital care if all goes well.
Femur Fracture Complications
Complications can extend this hospital stay, increasing costs, and prolong the recovery period. What’s more, complications associated with femur fractures are not uncommon. They can even be deadly if there’s excessive bleeding or blood clots.
Unless complications constitute a major setback, the patient can anticipate about eight weeks with a cast or brace and then extensive physical therapy to promote recovery. The average cost per physical therapy session without insurance is $75 to $150. Usually, multiple sessions per week are required. The prognosis: It may be up to 12 weeks after surgery before the leg can bear weight.
The Cost of Treating a Broken Tibia or Fibula
Does a tibia or fibula injury require surgery or just a cast? The first step will be getting the right diagnosis. Depending on severity—especially if the bone is sticking through the skin or misaligned—treatment could begin in the Emergency Room. For the uninsured, an ER visit can average $1,668 in New York. That’s typically after a $400-plus ambulance transport.
Treatment for a more mild break will likely be decided by an orthopedist: a doctor that specializes in treating the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic surgeons charge an average of $274 per hour in New York.
Next comes the diagnostic tests he or she may order. The average costs for diagnostic tests in New York may include:
- X-rays: ($70-$170)
- CT scans (upwards of $875)
- Bone scans (about $360)
- And MRIs (averaging $490 per session)
If the tibia and fibula are not both broken, and if there are no complications, the patient may be able to avoid surgery and hospitalization. In fact, with a fibula fracture, it’s common for treatment to consist of wearing a cast or splint for several weeks.
But sometimes a broken tibia or fibula needs surgery to align and stabilize the bone. In these circumstances, surgery can cost as much as $35,000. Then there is the surgeon’s typical fee of $2,000 or more.
Complications with a Tibia or Fibula Fracture
Complications like a blood clot or infection, which can happen with a tibia fracture, mean more will be spent on medical care. The same is true if the broken tibia severs nerves and blood vessels leading to soft tissue damage.
As with the femur, the road to recovery is likely to include weeks of physical therapy for an average cost of $75 to $150 a session without insurance.
Lost Income During Recovery
Complete recovery from femur surgery can be up to six months. During that time, many people are unable to work, and this may represent a hardship.
In fact, the typical New York State resident off the job for six months may lose a total of $34,800. This number is calculated based on the average weekly income in New York State, which is currently $1,450, according to the New York Department of Labor. The patient may or may not be receiving benefits to cover this financial loss.
A tibia fracture can take four to six months to heal completely, as is the case with a combination break of both the tibia and fibula. Six months out of work can mean a $34,800 loss of income for the average New Yorker.
Typically, the cheapest bone one can break is the fibula alone. A fibula fracture can put the injured party out of work for up to three months. The income lost would amount to an average of $17,400.
Most Expensive Leg Fractures
- Open or compound fracture: Presenting the risk of infection, this type of fracture requires immediate care because of bone fragments protrude through the skin. It is more expensive to treat than a closed fracture in which the skin remains whole.
- Complete fracture: The bone has snapped into multiple parts, a more complicated and more costly situation than an incomplete fracture.
- Displaced fracture: Surgery may be required to realign bone fragments on either side of the break. Surgery will increase the expense of recovery significantly.
It takes a lot of force to break the femur of a healthy person. Car accidents, falls from tall heights, gunshot wounds, workplace accidents are among the most common causes of broken femurs in New York.
However, the tibia and fibula are much more fragile bones, and can break from the impact of a simple slip-and-fall accident, or sudden impact against an object.
Leg bones also can fracture during contact sports, perhaps when the leg becomes hyperextended. Overuse of the legs in general can cause stress fractures, another type of break.
In the case of an older person suffering from weak bones as with osteoporosis, even the femur can break without much force. A bad fall on a slippery surface, or even excessive exercise can cause such a fracture.
Contact New York Broken Bone Attorneys
The costs associated with a broken leg can be overwhelming, but an accident victim can find financial relief through legal compensation for their damages if their injuries resulted from another party’s negligence. Settlements can be won in order to cover a victim’s:
- Medical expenses,
- Lost income while out of work,
- And other damages, pain and suffering.
If the injury is related to a car crash, sports, workplace trauma or other accident, consider a legal remedy. Many accident victims get substantial awards for their financial losses as well as pain and suffering. Call the Broken Bone Attorneys at Sobo & Sobo today to schedule your free consultation, and win the justice and compensation you are owed.