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Why doctors often misdiagnose pulmonary embolisms

by | Apr 26, 2021 | Failure To Diagnose |

A pulmonary embolism is one of the most life-threatening medical emergencies you can experience. Despite this, doctors frequently misdiagnose it, dismissing their patient’s condition as something far less serious than it is, or else ordering inappropriate and unhelpful treatment.

What is a pulmonary embolism?

A pulmonary embolism usually is a blockage in one or more arteries in the lungs. Most often, these blockages are caused by blood clots that formed in the legs, but they can also happen because of fat, air bubbles or portions of a tumor. By blocking blood flow into the lungs, these clots cause portions of the lungs to begin to die. The condition is very common, affecting up to 600,000 Americans each year — and causing an estimated 200,000 deaths.

If diagnosed in time, a pulmonary embolism can be treated with anticoagulant or blood thinners. Several different tests can potentially reveal an embolism, including blood tests, chest x-rays and ultrasound. But if the patient has an underlying heart or lung issue, it can complicate the diagnostic process.

No excuse for negligent misdiagnosis of an embolism

However, that is no excuse for medical malpractice. There is a difference between a physician who orders the right tests, makes a reasonable effort to interpret them, and misdiagnoses the patient, and a doctor who negligently fails to give the patient the level of medical attention to which they are entitled. The latter scenario puts patients in needless danger of serious injury and death.

Patients and families devastated by malpractice related to a pulmonary embolism may be entitled to substantial compensation for their medical bills, pain and suffering, and more.