If you've taken your child to the ER because they've broken a bone, you might not think you need to take them to the doctor right away if their bone is splinted there. However, one study shows that in fact, about 93% of splints were not placed properly in ER situations. Here are some splinting mistakes that you might observe which underline the need to see your primary physician as soon as possible after the splint is put on.

Splint Might Be Too Tight

In order to ensure the bone gets the proper support, your child's bone might be wrapped too tightly. Because your child is in pain already, they may not attribute pain to the tightness of the splint and you might think that it needs to be that snug.

One way to determine whether the splint is too tight is to do a capillary refill test so that you can ensure that the splint is not cutting off blood supply to the extremities. To do this, press lightly on the nail bed of a finger (if the arm or hand is splinted) or toe (if the ankle or leg is splinted) near the site of the splint. You should see the nail bed blanche or become pale. Let go, and count, in seconds, how long it takes for the nail bed to return to a normal, healthy color. This should occur in less than two seconds. If the nail bed remains pale, that could indicate that blood flow is restricted because of the splint, in which case you should see a doctor right away.

Bone is Not Positioned Properly

Another thing to pay attention to is the position that a bone is put in while in the splint. For example, an ankle splint should immobilize the ankle and foot in a way that mimics natural positioning, which is about 90 degrees. If this isn't done, the danger is that the bone may begin to heal incorrectly, which in the case of an ankle might mean long term problems with walking. Seeing a doctor as soon as possible after the splint is put on can help you confirm that the positioning is correct.

If you notice any of the problems in this article, be sure to bring up your concerns with your primary care physician right away. They can assess the splinting and make any needed changes right away.