What are the Causes of a Pulmonary Embolism?

man sitting in chair holding arm to chest after experiencing one of the causes of a pulmonary embolism

Complications from surgery happen everyday, and a pulmonary embolism is just one of many that may change the trajectory of a family’s life. Doctors must give careful  medical attention to prevent a pulmonary embolism before their patients  take a turn for the worse. As medical malpractice attorneys, we have seen the devastation left behind in the face of a preventable or  untreated pulmonary embolism, and our team is here to help guide you through the filing process.

What is a pulmonary embolism?

A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that travels to your lung from your extremities  and gets lodged in a lung artery — increasing your chance for blood flow issues, oxygen deprivation and blood pressure concerns. According to the CDC, over 900,000 people are affected by pulmonary embolisms each year and 33% of people with this condition will have a recurrence within 10 years.

Untreated pulmonary embolisms increase a person’s risk for heart issues, heart failure, lung damage and even death. It is imperative that doctors take the appropriate steps to rule out life-threatening problems that may arise to ensure the safety of their patients.

What are the risk factors and causes of a pulmonary embolism

Blood clots are the main cause of a pulmonary embolism. Almost all causes of pulmonary embolism come from clots that are formed in the deep veins in your legs, but clots can also form in the deeper veins of the arms and pelvis. This formation of a clot in the deep veins of the body is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and its release into the bloodstream can cause serious repercussions such as a pulmonary embolism.

DVTs may develop from:

  • Prolonged sitting;
  • A long-term catheter;
  • Obesity;
  • Specific medical conditions like heart disease;
  • Pregnancy or childbirth in the past six months;
  • Recent surgeries or fractures in the leg, pelvis or hip bones; or
  • A family history of blood clots.

What are the warning signs of a pulmonary embolism? 

Two of the most common warning signs are shortness of breath and chest pains that increase in severity with movement or taking deep breaths. In many cases, the severity of the pains depend on the size of the clot and where it is located in your lung.

Additional warning signs of a pulmonary embolism include:

  • Sudden shortness of breath;
  • Sharp chest pains that worsen as you breathe;
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness;
  • Passing out from drop in blood pressure;
  • Blood present after coughing;
  • Leg pain or swelling;
  • Back pain;
  • Excessive sweating;
  • Wheezing;
  • Bluish lips or nails; or
  • Rapid heartbeat.

If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, go to the emergency room right away so you can receive treatment.

What should my doctor do next? 

If these symptoms are present, your doctor should immediately do a physical exam and ask about your personal history to uncover relevant risk factors. From there, they may do blood tests, chest X-rays, or conduct other forms of imaging to detect a blood clot in your lung. Doctors will also check for swelling in your legs and listen to your heart and lungs for any signs of complications.

Failure to act upon seeing these symptoms may result in a viable pulmonary embolism misdiagnosis claim if a pulmonary embolism occurs.

What is the standard of care that should be practiced for a pulmonary embolism? 

Once your doctor determines the symptoms and causes of a pulmonary embolism are present, they should immediately begin treatment. This treatment will occur after the necessary tests are complete to confirm the diagnosis.

The typical standard of care includes:

  1. Your doctor’s recognition of a blood clot in the lung.
  2. Your doctor’s administration of the necessary medication to reduce the clot.
  3. Your doctor’s expertise and patience in conducting and observing serial imaging to confirm the diagnosis.
  4. Your doctor and their team’s close monitoring of your condition to make sure the clot does not move or grow.

A pulmonary embolism misdiagnosis may occur if your doctor fails to adhere to the standard of care. Medical malpractice attorneys will be able to help you through a misdiagnosed or untreated pulmonary embolism case.

Hiring a Medical Malpractice Attorney for Pulmonary Embolisms

When a pulmonary embolism strikes, you expect you or your loved one’s care team to know what to do in order to treat the condition. If certain steps are overlooked in the hospital, it can lead to devastating repercussions for you and your family. Our medical malpractice attorneys will be with you every step of the way — from initial filing to the final verdict.

If you or a loved one experienced a misdiagnosed or untreated pulmonary embolism, contact our attorneys today for a free consultation about your case.

Missouri Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you have suffered as a result of medical malpractice, contact our legal team right away. Waiting to seek legal representation can prevent you from filing a claim and receiving the compensation you deserve.

Contact Zevan Murphy today.

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