Today, our top Chicago medical malpractice lawyers discuss a serious condition, pulmonary embolism, which can be deadly if not detected early and treated properly. A pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a blood clot, generally from the legs (but sometimes from other places, such as the arms or even the heart), travels to a victim’s lungs. When blood clots reach the lungs, they can cause severe medical problems, including brain injury from lack of oxygen in the blood, and even death. But patients suffering from blood clots often do not realize what has happened until it is too late. Even if the patient realizes that something is wrong, and goes to the emergency room, blood clots are often misdiagnosed – common misdiagnoses include heart attack and anxiety attack.
The symptoms of a blood clot often include:
- Pulsating pain
- Shortness of breath
- Hot, swollen calf
When the blood clot enters the lungs, and the condition progresses to pulmonary embolism, these symptoms can also include:
- Chest pain
- Rapid heartbeat
- Coughing up blood, or bloody mucous
- Weak pulse
The sting of cases of failure to diagnose pulmonary embolism — often involving the failure to order a CT scan or pulmonary angiography — is that the treatment for the blood clots which lead to this condition is generally simple and effective. If a blood clot is properly diagnosed, it can be treated with blood thinners, which usually correct the problem. But if left untreated, around one-third of patients who suffer a pulmonary embolism are killed by the condition.
Pulmonary embolism cases often occur in those who have recently traveled, regardless of their age. Patients who suffer from obesity also have an increased risk. Likewise, pulmonary embolism is common in patients who have just undergone orthopedic surgery, or other surgeries that confine them to their beds for more than two days. Also at risk for blood clots (and pulmonary embolism) are those suffering from Deep Vein Thrombosis (more commonly known as DVT).
In light of the severe consequences, and fatalities, which result when blood clots are misdiagnosed, it is unsurprising that these misdiagnoses often amount to medical malpractice. This malpractice can take many forms: the failure to properly monitor the patient, the failure to perform appropriate and necessary tests, the failure to recognize the symptoms of blood clots or pulmonary embolism, and treating the wrong condition.
Every case is unique, however. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you to understand whether the pulmonary embolism should have been detected, and what your legal options are. For a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.