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Failure to Diagnose Deep Vein Thrombosis Medical Malpractice Cases

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Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) commonly affects the leg veins. A DVT can be asymptomatic, meaning there are no symptoms.

However, in most cases the affected extremity will be painful, red and swollen. The most serious complication of a DVT is that a blood clot could dislodge and travel to the lungs, which is called a pulmonary embolism (PE). A PE can kill a patient because the clot can block the heart/lung track.

To figure out if an individual has a medical malpractice case due to DVT, some things need to be investigated.

  • For instance, after an operation, did the patient have anti-embolism elastic stockings ordered by the doctor and put on by the nurse?
    • Lying in bed causes blood to lie idle in the leg veins. The stockings compress the superficial veins causing more blood to flow faster through the deep veins, where the greater risk of clotting occurs.
  • Did the healthcare providers make sure that the patient exercise his or her legs in bed frequently enough?
    • Exercise of the legs, particularly the feet and ankles causes blood to move faster through the veins and reduces the risk of clotting and a subsequent PE.
  • Did the doctor order appropriate blood thinners to reduce the risk of clotting? Was a consult with a pulmonary specialist ordered?

These and other questions should be investigated in medical malpractice case involving DVTs and PEs.

Blood Clots: Potentially Deadly, and Easily Caught through Testing

We live in a largely sedentary world. In days long past, people would have to hunt or gather their food, actively seeking out plants and animals to consume. More recently, farming was the only way to obtain our daily bread. With the advent of shopping malls and grocery stores, obtaining necessities was made easier, but one still had to get up and move. Now, online shopping has largely supplanted the need to get up to do practically anything. Online services can have your prescriptions filled, your shoes shipped, even your groceries delivered right to your door. Time and effort is saved, but a problem has been exacerbated: blood clots.

The Causes of Blood Clots

Blood clots are formed when the body responds to damage. The most common is the formation of a scab in response to a cut on the skin. The blood coagulates, preventing further bleeding and facilitating the formation of new skin cells. While this is a beneficial blood clot, clots that form within the veins and arteries are potentially dangerous.

Internal blood clots can form for many different reasons. If one has been sitting for a prolonged period of time, a deep vein thrombosis, or blood clot in one of the deep veins of the body, can form in the legs. A genetic autoimmune disorder called antiphospholipid syndrome, or sticky blood, causes the body to attack otherwise beneficial or benign proteins in the body, causing blood clots to form. Regardless of the cause of the clot, they can be potentially dangerous. If a clot travels to the heart or lungs, it can cause breathing problems or even a heart attack. If it travels to the brain, it can even cause a stroke. Particularly dangerous blood clots can be treated quickly with surgery, but a doctor must catch the clot in time. If the diagnosis is delayed, malpractice becomes a prime issue.

The Tests for Blood Clots

Blood clots are easily detectable. The symptoms of a potentially dangerous blood clot are shortness of breath, sudden chest pain, sudden body numbness in the torso and arms, and headache, amongst others. Once these symptoms present themselves, tests can be run to determine if a blood clot is the culprit. An ultrasound would show evidence of a dangerous blood clot. A CT scan of the head or chest would also reveal the presence of a blood clot.

A Current Problem

Blood clots are currently in the news. A 26-year-old pediatrician, complaining of a headache spell that lasted 10 days, lost her life after doctors allegedly failed to order a test for a blood clot until she had been admitted to the hospital for 40 hours. A 31-year-old man recovered from deep vein thrombosis after playing video games for eight hours a day, over four days.

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