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Pulmonary Embolism – Medical Malpractice Attorney

Watch the video below to learn more about pulmonary embolism medical malpractice cases from one of our highly qualified medical malpractice attorneys.

What Is A Pulmonary Embolism?

A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot which forms in a blood vessel within the body, often in the leg. The blood clot then travels to the lung artery, where it abruptly blocks blood flow.

More Information about Pulmonary Embolism

An embolus is a blood clot which forms in a blood vessel and travels to another part of the body. An embolus is a blood clot that can become lodged in a blood vessel. This can cause a blockage in the blood supply to an organ. An embolism is a blockage of blood vessels by an embolus.

The circulatory system of the body is made up of the heart, arteries and capillaries. The blood is moved from the heart to the arteries with great force. The blood then flows into the capillaries, which are tiny blood vessels located in the tissues. Through the veins, blood returns to the heart. Blood flow slows as it flows through the veins to the heart. This slow blood flow can sometimes lead to clot formation.

What Causes A Pulmonary Embolism?

To prevent bleeding, blood clots are a natural process. The body creates blood clots, then breaks them down. In some cases, the body might not be able to dissolve a clot. This could lead to serious health problems.

Blood clots in veins can be caused by a slowed blood flow or an abnormality in the formation of clots, or an injury to the blood vessel walls.

Blood clots may form in veins and arteries. Venous clots are formed in veins. There are two types of veins in the legs: superficial veins that are close to the skin’s surface and deep veins that are located near the bone.

Most often, venous clots occur in the deep veins. Deep vein thrombosis is also known as DVT. Once a clot forms in the deep veins, it is possible for part of the blood clot to break free and travel through the bloodstream to another area, such as the lung. A pulmonary embolism is most commonly caused by DVT.

A fat embolus (often associated with the breaking of large bones), amniotic liquid embolus and air bubbles are also common sources of pulmonary embolism. An IV catheter may be inhaled and clots can form.

Pulmonary Embolism Medical Malpractice: Who Is At Greatest Risk Of Pulmonary Embolism?

The following are risk factors for pulmonary embolism:

  • Increased risk of blood clots due to genetic conditions
  • A family history of blood-clotting disorders
  • Orthopedic surgery, especially for injuries to the legs or surgery or rehabilitation
  • Situations that limit mobility, such as prolonged bed rest, riding long distances or flying, paralysis, and other situations
  • Clot history in the past
  • Aging
  • Treatment for cancer and prevention
  • Some medical conditions such as heart disease, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), high blood pressure, stroke, and inflammatory bowel disease may be caused by certain medical conditions.
  • Some medicines, like birth control pills or estrogen replacement therapy, may be prescribed.
  • After and during pregnancy, as well as after a cesarean section
  • Obesity
  • Varicose veins are enlarged veins in the legs.
  • Cigarette smoking

Pulmonary Embolism Medical Malpractice: What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Pulmonary Embolism (Pulmonary Embolism)?

These are the most common signs of pulmonary embolism (PE). Each person will experience different symptoms.

  • Sudden shortness or a lack of breath is the most common.
  • Chest pain (usually worsened by breathing)
  • An anxiety feeling
  • Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or fainting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Palpitations (heart racing).
  • Coughing up blood and/or a cough
  • Sweating
  • Low blood pressure

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) may also be present, such as:

  • The affected leg may feel sore when walking or standing.
  • Leg swelling
  • Tenderness, redness and/or warmth of the legs.
  • Redness or discoloration of the skin

If you believe you may have a PE your healthcare provider will examine your legs for signs and symptoms of deep vein thrombosis.

The severity and type of symptoms you experience from a PE will depend upon the size of your embolism, and whether or not you have any heart/lung problems.

A PE can look similar to other conditions. For a diagnosis, it is important to consult a healthcare provider.

How can pulmonary embolism be Diagnosed?

Pulmonary embolism (PE), which is often hard to diagnose, can be very similar to other conditions.

A complete medical history is required.

  • Chest radiograph. This test can be used to evaluate the heart and lungs. The chest X-rays provide information about the shape, contour, size, and anatomic locations of the heart, lungs and bronchi (large breathing tubes), and mediastinum (area at the center of the chest that separates the lungs from the rest of the body).
  • Ventilation-perfusion scan (V/Q scan). For this nuclear radiology test, a small amount of a radioactive substance is used to help examine the lungs. Ventilation scans evaluate ventilation. This is the movement of air into the bronchi and the bronchioles. A perfusion scan measures blood flow to the lungs.
  • Pulmonary angiogram. The X-ray image shows the blood vessels and is used to diagnose various conditions such as aneurysms (bulging of blood vessels), stenosis, narrowing of blood vessels, or blockages. Through a flexible tube that is placed inside an artery, a dye (contrast), is injected. The dye causes the blood vessels to appear on X-ray.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) or CAT scan. This imaging test uses X-rays to create detailed images of the body. A CT scan can show details about bones, muscles, fat, organs, and more. Contrast CT enhances the image in the lungs of blood vessels. Contrast is a dye-like substance that is injected into a vein to make the organ or tissue under examination more visible on the scan.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging. This imaging technique uses a combination radio frequencies and a magnetic field to create detailed images of the organs and structures of the body.
  • Duplex ultrasound (US). This type is used to evaluate blood flow and the structure in the blood vessels of the legs. (Blood from the legs can often travel to the lung and dislodge. The US uses high frequency sound waves and computers to create images of blood vessels, tissues and organs.
  • Laboratory tests. Blood testing are used to determine the blood’s clotting condition, including a test called D–dimer level. Another blood test may be used to check for genetic conditions that could cause abnormal blood clotting. To determine how much oxygen is present in the blood, arterial blood gases can be tested.
  • The EKG (Electrocardiogram) is the simplest and most efficient test to assess the heart. The electrodes (small, sticky patches that are small) are placed on certain areas of the chest, arms and legs. Lead wires connect the electrodes to an EKG machine. The heart’s electrical activity is recorded, interpreted and printed.

Pulmonary Embolism Medical Malpractice: How Can A Pulmonary Embolism Be Treated?

There are several treatment options for pulmonary embolism (PE).

  • Anticoagulants. These medicines, also known as blood thinners or blood thinners, decrease blood clotting. This prevents clots becoming larger and helps to keep new clots away from forming. Warfarin and Heparin are two examples.
  • Fibrinolytic Therapy. These medicines, also known as clot-busters, are administered intravenously (IV) or into a vein to dissolve the clot. These medicines should not be used in situations that are life-threatening.
  • Vena Cava filter. This small, metal device is placed in the large blood vessel that returns blood to the heart. It may prevent clots traveling to the lungs. These filters can be used when you are unable to get anticoagulation treatment for medical reasons, develop more clots despite anticoagulation treatment, have bleeding problems due to anticoagulation medication or when you don’t want to take anticoagulation medicine.
  • Pulmonary Embolectomy. This is a procedure to remove a PE. This is usually done when the PE is severe, if you are unable to get anticoagulation or thrombolytic therapy because of other medical conditions, or if your condition is unstable.
  • Percutaneous hemorrhage. A catheter is a long hollow tube that can be inserted through the blood vessels to reach the area of embolism. Once the catheter has been placed, it can be used to either break up the embolism or pull it out using thrombolytic medication.

Preventive treatment is an important part of treating a PE to prevent the formation of further emboli.

Pulmonary Embolism Medical Malpractice: What Are The Complications Of Having A Pulmonary Embolism.

Pulmonary embolism (PE), which can lead to a decrease in blood flow and lung tissue damage, is known as a pulmonary embolism. Low blood oxygen levels can also cause damage to other organs.

A PE, especially a large one or clots, can cause serious and sometimes fatal problems.

Anticoagulation medications or blood thinners are often used to treat a PE. If you take too many anticoagulation medicines or blood thinners, your blood can become thin and increase the risk of excessive bleeding. If bleeding continues after applying pressure for 10 minutes, it is called excessive bleeding. You should also be aware of other signs and symptoms such as bleeding:

There are signs of bleeding in your digestive system

  • Bright red vomit, or vomit that looks similar to coffee grounds
  • You can have bright red blood on your stool, or you can have black, tarrystools
  • Abdominal pain

Brain bleeding signs:

  • Grave headaches
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Sudden loss in movement or sensation in your arms or legs
  • Memory loss or confusion

These conditions should be treated immediately.

Pulmonary Embolism Medical Malpractice: Is It Possible To Prevent Pulmonary Embolism?

Pulmonary embolism (PE), which is commonly caused by blood clots that formed in the legs, is often preventable. Prevention of PE is possible by living a healthy lifestyle. This includes:

  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy weight
  • A balanced diet
  • Take only the prescribed medications
  • Not smoking

DVT prevention includes:

Noninvasive mechanical measures

There are many ways to prevent DVT, without the need for medication:

  • Compression stockings are elastic stockings that compress or squeeze the veins to stop blood from flowing backward.
  • Pneumatic compression devices are sleeves on the legs that are connected with a machine that applies alternating pressure to the legs to keep the blood moving.
  • After surgery or illness, get up and move as soon as you can. By stimulating blood circulation, movement can prevent clots form.


To prevent DVT, anticoagulants and aspirin can be used.

DVTs can still be contracted by many people even after discharge from hospital. DVT prevention treatment should continue until the risk is eliminated, which usually takes 3 to 6 months.

Pulmonary Embolism Medical Malpractice: Important Points Regarding Pulmonary Embolisms

  • A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot which develops in a blood vessel in the body (often in the leg) and travels to an arterial in the lung. The blockage causes a sudden blood loss.
  • An abnormal blood clot can form when there are problems like slow blood flow, abnormal clot-forming factors and/or injury to the blood vessel walls.
  • Pes have been associated with a wide range of risk factors and conditions.
  • The most common sign of a PE is sudden shortness of breath.
  • Because PE symptoms and signs are similar to many other diseases and conditions, it can be difficult to diagnose. To diagnose PE, imaging tests and blood tests can be used.
  • Preventing the formation of additional clots is an important part of treating a PE. PEs can be treated with medicines, filters to prevent clots getting into the lungs, or surgery.
  • A PE, especially a large one or a lot of clots can quickly lead to serious and potentially fatal consequences


Learn More:

What Is Medical Malpractice?

The Consequences Of Medical Malpractice

What Is The Difference Between Medical Malpractice And Medical Negligence?


Video Transcript

We’re talking about pulmonary emboli and the potential for medical malpractice cases. A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot, a blood clot that goes and lodges into the heart and then up into the lungs, which causes a person to have difficulty exchanging air and can even cause sudden death 100 percent of the time tragically.

The blood clot source is a deep vein thrombosis, a fancy word for saying that there’s a blood clot that’s usually in one of the veins in the lower legs, and the veins are different from arteries in your circulatory system. You have arteries that carry oxygenated blood that’s already been filled with oxygen from the heart and the lungs, and that artery takes that blood into your muscles. It takes it into your organs, and your muscles and organs use the oxygen and pull that off.

Once that blood has been used, it has to return to the heart and the lungs to get re-oxygenated. That goes through the veins. Well, the veins in your lower extremities are very, very big, and often, people may be predisposed to getting blood clots in those veins if they sit on a plane for a long period and don’t get up and move around or for that matter, people have some pre-existing cancer.

Cancer is a predisposition toward having blood clots, but for whatever reason, there’s a blood clot. Then if people get up and move, that blood clot essentially shifts and migrates up through the vascular system, goes through the right side of the heart, and then gets lodged into the lungs, and people die.

Now where you see medical negligence is when people show up with symptoms, and they’re ignored. They’re not properly worked up, the symptoms that are typically associated with a deep vein thrombosis, DVT is a pain in the legs, pain swelling, usually in the calf area, where you squeeze the calf, and that’s called a yeoman sign, but other symptoms are associated with deep vein thrombi, and if those symptoms are not adequately addressed, if they’re ignored, if they’re minimized, it can have devastating effects. A person could be running around with blood clots in their veins, and they get up and go to the restroom, and that blood clot shifts off, and boom, next thing you know, it’s in the heart and lungs, and they drop dead.

I have litigated probably about a dozen pulmonary embolism malpractice cases. We’ve settled pretty much all of them because the damages are huge. I mean, usually, these people don’t make it. They die. So PE is a natural phenomenon in this world. It’s so prevalent that people should be aware of it. When people start having pain in their legs, it pops up without trauma. You didn’t bump yourself on the table or anything. Suddenly you’re sitting there, and you have pain in your calf. People need to think about having a deep vein thrombosis, which necessarily should cause people to think, hey, let’s try to avoid somebody having a pulmonary embolism and dying.

Those are situations that we typically see with pulmonary emboli and medical malpractice. Once again, if you think that someone you know or a loved one has suffered a pulmonary embolism and the doctors just blew it, that there were symptoms that were going on that were ignored, give us a call. I would love to review every page of the medical records associated with your loved one’s care and tell you what happened..