- posted: Apr. 09, 2013
- Medical Malpractice
We’ve all heard the stories of famous people stricken by pulmonary embolism (PE). NBC reporter David Bloom died in Afghanistan from this condition. Tennis star Serena Williams nearly died. PE is a lot more common than you might think.
What is it? Pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that works its way into your lungs. Common signs are shortness of breath, fast breathing, chest pain, coughing, and coughing up blood. These symptoms may not be present all at once and they may fade in and fade out. Often, the symptoms come on very quickly, but not always.
Why is it difficult to diagnose? Pulmonary embolism often disguises itself as a heart attack or sepsis. Other conditions such as pneumonia and myocardial infarction also share similar symptoms. Moreover, patients may have more than one of these ailments at the same time, further complicating the situation.
What do doctors typically fail to do? Doctors are negligent when they fail to investigate common symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath. Doctors need to do a proper workup to investigate several possible conditions simultaneously, especially when risk factors indicate a possibility of pulmonary embolism.
There is a blood test to rule out pulmonary embolism, but it may not conclusively establish it as the diagnosis. To be certain, doctors generally order a pulmonary angiography. This is a radiographic test that uses CT imaging with dye to show whether clots are blocking portions of the lungs.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a physician erroneously ruling out pulmonary embolism, you may have a basis for a medical malpractice or wrongful death claim.