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Did doctors fail to take steps to prevent a pulmonary embolism?

Yes, nearly every surgical procedure comes with certain risks. Even so, it is up to the doctors in charge of your care to minimize or eliminate those risks, especially if you suffer from a health condition or some other malady that increases those risks.

A common post-surgical complication is the threat of a pulmonary embolism. If medical personnel fail to take the proper precautions before, during and after your procedure to protect you from this eventuality as much as possible, it could constitute medical malpractice.

A pulmonary what?

The blood supply to your lungs flows through your pulmonary artery. If it a blockage occurs, ordinarily due to a blood clot, you could suffer a pulmonary embolism. The clot travels through the artery and blocks normal blood flow to your lungs.

How would I know?

The symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Increased or irregular heartbeat
  • Sharp, stabbing chest pain that may worsen when inhaling
  • Rapid breathing
  • Inability to catch your breath
  • Coughing that may include mucous and blood or just blood

If the situation becomes serious enough, you could lose consciousness, go into shock or go into cardiac arrest. You could die without immediate medical attention.

Can doctors treat it?

Doctors use treatments including blood thinning drugs, clot busting drugs and oxygen therapy. You may also need treatment for shock. You may have to take medications for at least three months in order to help ensure that the situation completely resolves.

Could it have been prevented?

It's possible to prevent a pulmonary embolism through appropriate medical measures. Compression therapies such as compression socks force blood to flow into your deep veins, which should keep blood from pooling in your legs and causing an obstruction such as a blood clot. Blood thinning medications may also help but could be risky if you undergo a surgical procedure. Lifestyle changes may also prevent this condition from occurring.

Your doctors should assess your overall health condition, along with any specific medical maladies you suffer from, in order to determine your risk of pulmonary embolism. If your doctor fails to determine your risk and you don't receive the proper monitoring and post-surgery care, you may suffer harm.

If your doctors, surgeons, nurses and other medical personnel attending to you fail to meet the appropriate standard of care, you may have a claim for medical malpractice. Drawing attention to medical mistakes through such claims could provide you with the compensation you deserve and possibly save the life of another patient. You may have survived your ordeal, but the next patient who doesn't receive the proper care may not be as lucky.

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