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After surgery, could pulmonary emboli indicate doctor negligence?

No one wants to hear bad news after a medical procedure. Yet even for routine surgeries, there might be some risk. When hospital staff and doctors take proper precautions, the risk of many complications might be reduced.

However, some complications might raise the suspicion of medical negligence more than others. A pulmonary embolism might be an example, where the lungs are deprived of blood flow by a blood vessel blockage.

Notably, the clot, called a deep vein thrombosis, often does not start in the lungs. For example, the clot could be lodged in the deep veins of the thigh. After the clot breaks into smaller pieces, those emboli may travel to other areas and become lodged. An embolus that lodges in the lungs is called a pulmonary embolism. It could cause serious damage if left untreated, perhaps even cardiac arrest.

A person with a pulmonary embolism may experience shortness of breath, chest pains, or start to cough up mucus. However, the onset of a pulmonary embolism may be sudden. In fact, a recent article characterizes it as a silent killer, claiming around 300,000 lives each year.

Since a pulmonary embolism may strike without warning, doctors and hospital staff should closely monitor patients before and after a surgery. Before surgery, part of a doctor’s duty of care should be to screen patients for risk factors. Lifestyle factors like smoking might increase the risk, for example. After surgery, bed-ridden patients might be at risk of having blood pool in their thighs.

If a pulmonary embolism injured you, don’t hesitate to consult with a medical malpractice attorney. An attorney with experience in proving medical negligence can investigate to see whether proper precautions were taken.

Source: Velo News, “Pulmonary embolism, a silent killer: What cyclists should know,” David Stanley, Oct. 21, 2014

Source: WebMD, “Pulmonary Embolism - Topic Overview” 



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