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Doctors are only human, and like us they can make mistakes. The hope is that medical errors will be benign, correctable, and won't permanently harm patients. But not all mistakes are created equal, and some can have catastrophic consequences.
Take pulmonary embolisms, or PE for example, where a blood clot or other substance blocks the pulmonary arteries in the lungs. If misdiagnosed or untreated a pulmonary embolism can be fatal. And if a doctor misdiagnoses PE, she might be liable for medical malpractice.
Pulmonary Embolism Dangers
There are around 300,000 to 600,000 cases of PE every year in the United States, and result in an estimated 200,000 deaths. Not all embolisms are the same: some are blood clots in the legs that break off and travel to the heart; others may be an embolization of air, fat, or amniotic fluid; and in some cases a blood clot could occur in the pulmonary artery itself, not originating from the leg. Blocking blood flow to the lungs can results in a variety of injuries included passing out, dangerously low blood pressure, and even sudden death in about 15 percent of cases.
If diagnosed early, a pulmonary embolism can be treated with anticoagulant or blood thinners. Sometimes, patients may need to receive oxygen or analgesic treatments as well.
As with any other ailment, you can sue a doctor for misdiagnosis of a pulmonary embolism. And, like other medical malpractice claims, you would need to prove that your doctor failed to meet her duty to act as a reasonably competent medical professional and this failure led to your injuries. Proving doctor negligence can be complicated and require extensive expert testimony.
If the misdiagnosis results in death, you may also have a wrongful death claim against the doctor. Wrongful death claims are similar to negligence claims, but require you to prove that the death was caused by the doctor's negligence and that you, as a surviving spouse or family member, have suffered harm as the result of the death.
Medical malpractice cases are best left to the experts -- an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to assess your medical malpractice claim.