Florida Pulmonary Embolism Lawyer
Injury or death from a pulmonary embolism (PE) is one of the leading medical mistakes made by doctors and hospitals in Florida and the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts the number of pulmonary embolism fatalities as high as 100,000 annually, with another 900,000 suffering injury from PE. About one-fourth of PE fatality victims experience sudden death from a PE without exhibiting prior symptoms, while one-third succumb to death within a month after being diagnosed. Those who survive a pulmonary embolism may have suffer brain damage or permanent damage to the heart.
Doctors and hospitals should be vigilant for the signs and risk factors for PE. Failure to diagnose a blood clot, PE or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or misdiagnosis of these conditions, can be responsible for serious injury or death. At Freidin Brown, P.A., our Florida medical malpractice lawyers are skilled and experienced in uncovering the medical mistakes behind adverse events in Florida hospitals. If you or a loved one suffered harm from a pulmonary embolism, contact our office for a free consultation regarding whether medical error may have been to blame, what you can do about it and how we can help.
What is Pulmonary Embolism?
When a patient is immobilized for an extended period of time, a blood clot may form in the deep veins in the legs. This is known as a deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. If the DVT breaks loose, it can travel through the blood stream and enter the lung’s pulmonary artery. This is known as pulmonary embolism, or PE. With the pulmonary artery blocked, oxygenated blood cannot get back to the heart through the pulmonary veins to be distributed throughout the body via the aorta. The serious consequences of a PE can therefore include heart attack, stroke, permanent heart damage, irreversible brain damage or death. These disastrous consequences can result from the presence of one large PE or the appearance of several small blood clots.
What causes PE, and how are they prevented?
A blood clot or DVT is most likely to form when a body has been immobile for an extended period of time. This can occur when a person is paralyzed due to spinal cord damage or unconscious, such as in a coma or persistent vegetative state. Commonly, patients are immobilized for a period of time after surgery as well. Other risk factors for PE include obesity, advanced age, a history of smoking or a family history of blood clot formation.
When hospitals or nursing facilities have patients who are immobilized due to paralysis, unconscious state, feebleness or other conditions, it is incumbent on staff to shift, turn or move the patient periodically to prevent a blood clot from forming. These same procedures may apply to a post-operative patient as well. Post-surgical patients should also be prescribed anticoagulants to prevent clot formation, unless other conditions contraindicate the use of blood thinners. Another simple preventive measure is to get the patient up and around as soon as possible after surgery. Unfortunately, hospitals may neglect patients in this regard, or they may make medication errors in delivery of anticoagulants such as missing the administration of critical doses.
Why aren’t pulmonary embolisms diagnosed and treated early enough?
There is no reason for a PE to catch doctors and hospitals by surprise. Pulmonary embolisms present many symptoms to the trained observer, including:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Unfortunately, these symptoms are too readily dismissed by doctors and hospital staff as an upper respiratory infection (bronchitis), or they are misdiagnosed as another condition such as emphysema, COPD or anemia. On the contrary, doctors and hospitals should be vigilant and alert for the presence of PE when these symptoms are present in a post-operative patient or other person at risk of PE.
Given its serious nature, pulmonary embolism should be considered and ruled out through the differential diagnosis process whenever symptoms appear that could be signs of PE. Proper testing is needed to identify a PE. Doctors may typically order a chest x-ray or EKG, but these diagnostics do not always catch a PE. If the source of the symptoms has not been positively identified by these tests, it may be necessary or appropriate to order a spiral CT, which is much better at catching PE.
Even when a spiral CT is ordered, the results may still be misread by the radiologist. At Freidin Brown, P.A. our Florida medical malpractice lawyers are skilled at investigating the source of hospital injuries, proving malpractice and holding all responsible parties accountable to the patients they have harmed.
Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyers Helping Victims of Pulmonary Embolism in Florida Hospitals
If you or a loved one has suffered harm from a pulmonary embolism in a Florida hospital, contact Freidin Brown, P.A. to discuss your potential claims with an experienced and dedicated Florida medical malpractice lawyer.