Misdiagnosis & Pulmonary Embolism
It’s not always easy for doctors to arrive at a correct diagnosis right away. Many medical conditions have symptoms that are very similar to other conditions, but in some cases, the consequences can be very serious if a correct diagnosis isn’t reached. Unfortunately, some types of serious conditions tend to be misdiagnosed more frequently than others.
Pulmonary embolism is one of the most common types of medical misdiagnosis cases. In a 2013 report, research found that about one-third of patients who arrived at emergency departments with pulmonary embolism were misdiagnosed before being sent home or hospitalized. But unfortunately, the Mayo Clinic reports that about one-third of people who experience an undiagnosed pulmonary embolism do not survive.
Pulmonary embolism occurs when there is a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs. Typically, these are blood clots that travel from the legs into the lungs, but the clots can also travel from other parts of the body as well. Mild cases of pulmonary embolism might not show any symptoms at all, but people with pulmonary embolism can experience difficulty breathing, coughing, chest pain, and pain and/or swelling in the calf or thigh.
Certain factors can also put people at a higher risk for pulmonary embolism, such as if they smoke, are pregnant, have heart disease, or have recently undergone surgery. If a patient comes in showing symptoms of pulmonary embolism, it’s very important that tests be done to verify whether or not they have a pulmonary embolism, especially if they have risk factors that put them at a higher risk for developing the condition. Screenings such as X-rays, pulmonary angiograms, ultrasounds, EKGs, and CTs are all commonly used to help
Since the symptoms of pulmonary embolism are so similar to other conditions, many cases are incorrectly diagnosed. Pulmonary embolism is often incorrectly diagnosed as a heart attack, pneumonia, myocardial infarction, lung cancer, and congestive heart failure. If a person has a chronic lung condition, such as asthma, that’s another factor that often leads to a delayed or missed pulmonary embolism diagnosis since it’s easy to blame symptoms like being short of breath on the lung condition instead.
If you or a loved one developed complications, or even died, because of a misdiagnosed pulmonary embolism, it’s extremely important to get in touch with a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Medical malpractice cases are very complex and you’ll need someone on your side who understands the law and can help guide you through the process. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we have experience handling medical misdiagnosis cases. Contact us today for help with your case.