Wrongful Death Due to Pulmonary Embolism
Pulmonary embolism is a condition that occurs when a blockage occurs in one or both of the branches of the pulmonary artery that carry blood to the lungs.
Pulmonary embolism is most often caused by Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), a condition where a blood clot (thrombus) forms in the deep veins of the legs. The most common cause of DVT is trauma to the hip or leg. In addition, certain medical conditions create an increased risk of DVT, including paralysis, pregnancy, cancer, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and certain rare blood conditions. DVT may also result from being confined to bed or sitting for a prolonged period of time. A pulmonary embolism occurs when a piece of the clot breaks off and travels (embolizes) to the heart.
A pulmonary embolism may result from failure to timely diagnose and treat DVT. There are many ways in which DVT can be diagnosed, the most common being an ultrasound. DVTs are treated most often by administering anticoagulants (blood thinners) intravenously in the hospital and continuing orally once the patient is stabilized.
There are many recognizable signs of a pulmonary embolism. These include shortness of breath, sharp chest pain, rapid pulse, profuse sweating, and anxiety. It is important that the symptoms be treated immediately as death may occur within a very short period of time if left untreated. There are three common tests used to diagnose a pulmonary embolism, including pulmonary angiography, a lung perfusion scan (also known as a V/Q scan), and a lung ventilation scan.
The most effective means of preventing pulmonary embolism is by identifying those patients at greatest risk for DVT and providing appropriate prophylactic (preventive) measures to minimize the possibility of forming blood clots. Some common methods of DVT prophylaxis include elastic stockings, sequential compression devices, and subcutaneous (under the skin) low dose heparin. These patients must be closely monitored for signs and symptoms of DVT or pulmonary embolism so that therapeutic treatment can be promptly instituted.
Many of the wrongful death cases that we handle at Zucker and Ballen involve the failure to prescribe appropriate DVT prophylaxis as well as delayed diagnosis and treatment of DVT and pulmonary embolism. Please contact one of our medical malpractice attorneys if a loved one has suffered a wrongful death due to pulmonary embolism.