Pulmonary Embolism - Malpractice Lawyers Compensation ClaimLEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
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Pulmonary Embolism - Medical Malpractice
A pulmonary embolism is also sometimes called a pulmonary embolus. It happens when a blood clot in the arm or leg in the deep veins travels to the lung and blocks the circulation of blood to the long. Without circulation to the lung, the person cannot get oxygenated blood and the result is a fatal disease. The person dies almost instantaneously if the clot is big. If several small clots affect the lung, the disease is perhaps survivable if blood thinners are given. About a third of all patients with a pulmonary embolism do not survive the illness.
Pulmonary emboli result from blood clots that form usually in the deep veins of the legs, a condition known as a DVT or deep vein thrombosis. If you are at risk for a DVT, you are always at risk for a pulmonary embolus. Deep vein thromboses tend to be caused by inactivity, such as with a long car ride, airplane ride or surgery. There is an injury to the lining of the deep vein that forms a nidus that begins the clotting process. Clots can form along the valves of the vein as well. Eventually a deep vein thrombosis occurs that breaks off and can enter the pulmonary artery. No circulation gets to the lung and pulmonary infarction occurs. No blood gets to the oxygen and no oxygenated blood is formed. Death can occur within seconds.
About one out of 1000 individuals get a pulmonary embolism each year. Increased risk occurs with prolonged recovery after surgery or from a fracture with immobilization. Sixty to eighty percent of all patients with a DVT will get some degree of pulmonary embolism although more than half of those have any symptoms. It is the third most common cause of death of hospitalized patients. This means that about 650,000 deaths occur from pulmonary embolism each year in the US. The diagnosis is missed in about 70 percent of milder cases of the disease and they tend to recover fully. The rate of death is highest in intensive care units, in which the incidence can be as high as thirty percent. In those admitted for heart disease, about 30 percent develop DVTs. The rate increases to almost 50 percent in those who have had heart surgery, such as a bypass surgery. Women who are pregnant or postpartum have a very high risk of getting DVTs and pulmonary emboli.
A large pulmonary embolism is second only to sudden cardiac death as a cause of sudden death syndromes. Autopsies have shown that eighty percent of those who die suddenly from what is thought to be a heart attack in a hospital actually have a large pulmonary embolism. Ten percent die within an hour of the embolism and thirty percent die a bit later. Anticoagulant medications or clot busters can save many of these people if they are caught early enough. Unfortunately, 400,000 cases of this disease are missed every year. About 100,000 of these people could have been saved if the diagnosis is made promptly.
Testing for pulmonary embolism relies on a careful history and physical. There can be shortness of breath, dizziness and low blood pressure. In some cases, there can be sudden catastrophic hemodynamic collapse and death within seconds. If a pulmonary embolism is suspected, a V-Q scan can be done which is a radioactivity exam that looks for areas where the lung looks normal on x-ray but is not being oxygenated. These are areas of pulmonary embolism.
Treatment of pulmonary embolism is to use clot busting drugs and blood thinners to break up the clots that are forming in the lungs. If, however, the clot is huge and blocks the pulmonary artery, there is no good treatment and the patient dies.LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125