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Did Doctors Fail or Delay To Diagnose Your Pulmonary Embolism?


medical malpractice failure to diagnose pulmonary embolismLet Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys Explain Some of the Basic Things You Need To Know About The Failure to Diagnose Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency that can put a patient in serious danger.  Fortunately, there are important warning signs that can be life saving.  Sometimes, however, these signs are missed.   Here is some important information you should know about the failure to diagnose pulmonary embolism.

What is a Pulmonary Embolism?

A pulmonary embolism is a life threatening medical emergency that occurs when a blot clot, usually from the leg, clogs an artery in the lungs.  A clot that forms in the leg is known as a Deep Venous Thrombosis.  Once in the lung, the clot can stop blood flow causing symptoms like cough, shortness of breath, chest pain and even wrongful death.  These symptoms require immediate medical intervention.

What are the Signs of Pulmonary Embolism?

In addition to cough, shortness of breath and chest pain, there are other common signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism.  These include:

  • Leg pain and swelling, usually of the calf;
  • Rapid heart beat; and
  • Dizziness.

There are also certain factors that make the risk of pulmonary embolism greater.  For example, a family history of embolism, recent surgery or cancer.  Additionally, laying in bed for an extended period of time recovering from an injury, for example, can cause blood to pool in the legs increasing the risk of clots.

How Do You Prove a Failure To Diagnose Pulmonary Embolism Case?

In this area of the law, there are basically two fact patterns that are common: the failure to take appropriate measures to prevent blood clots, and the failure to diagnose and manage blood clots, once they have formed.

There are several methods that a doctor can use to help prevent the formation of clots.  In fact, the standard of care in this area of the law requires that doctors take reasonable measures to protect a patient from developing a clot, when the risk is high.  The risk of developing a deep venous thrombosis or blood clot is higher in patients that are immobile and confined to bed for extended periods of time.  For these patients, doctors must consider measures that can help reduce the risk of clots, including:

  • Compression stockings;
  • Elevation of the legs;
  • Intermittent pneumatic leg compression device; and
  • Anticoagulant therapy (blood thinners).

These methods of treatment are highly effective and easy to implement.

The other common scenario occurs when a patient presents to a doctor’s office or an emergency room with complaints consistent with pulmonary embolism.  If a doctor suspects this condition, standards of medical care require that the doctor investigate the possibility immediately because of dangers associated with delay.  There are many diagnostic tests that can be used to identify evidence of pulmonary embolism, including:

  • Chest X-ray;
  • Ultrasound;
  • Spiral CT Scan;
  • Pulmonary angiogram; and
  • MRI.

Once evidence of pulmonary embolism is identified, the standard of care requires that medication or other types of treatment be used to stop new blood clots from forming and to prevent existing blot clots from getting bigger.

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If you were injured because of a failure to diagnose a pulmonary embolism, contact our experienced medical malpractice attorneys for more information by email or calling (800) 762-9300 for a free consultation.  You can also fill out a case intake form, and one of our attorneys will get right back to you.

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