Pulmonary embolism (PE) is the obstruction of the pulmonary artery or one of its branches that leads to the lungs. Blockage is created by an embolus. An embolus, or blood clot, is material that travels through the blood stream and lodges in another location. Pulmonary embolism or thromboembolism most often happens when a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) breaks away from its site of origin and blocks a pulmonary blood vessel.
Most often a pulmonary embolism blood clot is derived from phlebothrombosis of the leg veins. A lesser embolism can result in death of lung tissue. Recurrent pulmonary embolism can result in pulmonary hypertension, raised blood pressure within the vessels supplying blood to the lungs. An untreated case or misdiagnosis of sudden pulmonary embolism can have severe consequences, including acute heart failure or sudden death.
There are approximately 650,000 deaths as the result of pulmonary embolism each year in the United States. The majority of these deaths happen during hospitalization, often involving patients who are immobilized after surgery. It is critical that a doctor or health professional identify patients that may be at risk for pulmonary embolism as part of preparation for surgery. Additionally, doctors must respond in a timely and responsible manner to patients complaining of common PE symptoms.
Blood Clot Symptoms
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid breathing
- Hypoxia (insufficient blood oxygen)
- Rapid heart rate
- Chest pain or chest tenderness
- Onset of wheezing
- Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
Blood clots can be clinically diagnosed with laboratory tests or imaging, including pulmonary angiography. If properly diagnosed and treated with anticoagulation therapy or embolectomy or dissolution of the blood clot by infusing medication, the risk of death is reduced by over 90%. However, if pulmonary embolism is undiagnosed/untreated, there is a 33% risk of fatality.
If you or a family member has suffered complications resulting from a blood clot after surgery, then contact the Kentucky medical malpractice lawyers at the law office of Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC.. He and his staff can evaluate your concerns about medical malpractice arising from a failure to properly diagnose or treat pulmonary embolism and determine if the appropriate actions were taken by your doctor in meeting the required standard of medical care.
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