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Medical Malpractice for Failure to Diagnose Deep Vein Thrombosis

July 01, 2011

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) results when a blood clot forms a deep vein within the body.  A clot that is otherwise known as a thrombus can form in the deep veins of the legs, pelvis, and sometimes other areas like the arms. The danger with these types of clots is that they can break free and travel through the bloodstream and head up to the lungs where it can become lodged in an artery and block blood flow to the lung.

When blood flow is blocked to the lung it is called a pulmonary embolism (PE). The clot itself is called an "embolus". An embolism like this can cause tissue damage to the lung or reduce the blood oxygen levels to the lung. This condition can also cause death.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 300,000 to 600,000 Americans experience DVT and pulmonary embolism each year and that 60,000 to 100,000 people die from this condition annually.

Symptoms

There are certain individuals that can be at risk for developing DVT.  A physician should be on the lookout for these individuals and be pro-active about preventative treatment or catch the condition as it is occurring.  Those most at risk for suffering a DVT include:

  • Smokers
  • Those who are obese
  • Individuals who have had recent surgery or an injury
  • People who are immobile for long periods

The symptoms of DVT can be missed or misdiagnosed.  This can be extremely dangerous because a person may think that they have something simple like a leg cramp or strain when they actually are experiencing symptoms of DVT.  Symptoms of DVT frequently include the following:

  • The leg area can be painful or swollen
  • There can be redness along with the swelling
  • Dilation of surface veins
  • Burning or increased warmth in the swollen area

If someone is experiencing a pulmonary embolism, they will normally feel out of breath, some chest pain, high pulse rate and/or low blood pressure.

Misdiagnosed

Doctors should screen for patients that are at high risk for DVT or PE.  When a diagnosis is made in a timely manner, these conditions are treatable.  Unfortunately, these conditions often are not diagnosed promptly or are misdiagnosed.  When a timely diagnosis is made, blood thinners and anticoagulation drugs can be taken by individuals to prevent these conditions.  There are tests that can be performed to determine whether a person has DVT.  A physician will look at a patient's medical history and conduct a physical exam and testing in order to get a clear diagnosis.  Tests used to diagnose DVT include:

  • Ultrasound - Sound waves create images of the blood flow through the affected spot.
  • A D-dimer test – The test measures a substance in the blood that is released when a clot dissolves.
  • Venography - Dye is actually injected into a vein using a catheter, and an X-ray is taken of the leg and the affected vein.

If you or someone you love is seriously injured or dies because their doctor failed to diagnose deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism, your doctor may be liable for medical negligence.  If you or someone you love was seriously injured or killed by the negligence of a medical professional, the compassionate legal team at the Warner Law Offices in Kansas carefully analyzes medical malpractice cases to evaluate our client’s right to recovery.  We invite you to call and speak with an experienced Kansas malpractice attorney today at (866) 584-1032 to see how we can help.

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