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Preventing Blood Clots, DVT, and Pulmonary Embolism (PE)

By John Macfarlane on April 25, 2017


Blood Clots

Blood in the human body has the ability coagulate or clot as a mechanism for preventing blood loss when an artery or vein is damaged and leaking blood. The natural circulation of blood throughout the human body keeps blood from coagulating while inside a vessel.  The coagulation process is typically activated when blood stops moving or moves very slowly. Unfortunately, clots can form while inside a healthy blood vessel which can cause a plethora of problems including obstruction and tissue death, heart attack, stroke, and death.

Types of Life-Threatening Blood Clots

Movement and contractions of muscles throughout your body enable the continuous flow of blood to your heart, and inactivity is a major contributor to the risk of developing blood clots. Patients undergoing surgery are at an increased risk for developing blood clots because of the trauma from surgery and the inactivity that typically follows any minor surgery. Unwanted clotting due to inactivity may occur in the heart, brain, arms, legs, lungs, or abdomen.

A blood clot that occurs in the leg or lower pelvis is called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Without treatment, DVT can move and block the flow of blood into your heart, brain, or lungs, and cause tissue death and possible limb amputation.   DVT’s are also potentially life threatening because they can travel to the heart or lungs. 

Symptoms of DVT can include:

  • swelling in the leg
  • pain or tenderness
  • increased warmth in the swollen area
  • reddening skin on the affected area

A clot that breaks free and moves into your lungs is called a Pulmonary Embolism (PE) and requires urgent medical treatment.

Symptoms of PE include:

  • shortness of breath
  • coughing up blood
  • pain when breathing
  • a racing heartbeat
  • light-headedness/fainting

Prevention

All persons are capable of developing a blood clot, DVT, or PE.  Some people are at increased risk for clots because of issues such as clotting disorders, family history of blood clots, or other medical conditions.  Due to the increased risk of blood clots following a surgical procedure, hospitals should exercise due care and take the following precautions:

  • Conduct a thorough review of patient medical history, family history of blood clots, medications, or conditions which may increase the risk of blood clots;
  • Prescribe blood thinners or anticoagulants (Coumadin or Warfarin) to high risk patients to treat excessive blood clotting or prevent existing blood clots from becoming larger;
  • Use ultrasounds, veinographies, electrocardiograms, and other tests to monitor high risk patients;
  • Where possible, encourage lifestyle changes prior to surgery. These recommendations may include exercise, discontinuing medication, or other interventions;
  • Encourage patient movement as soon as possible following surgery; and
  • Use compression stockings and intermittent pneumatic compression devices to reduce swelling and increase blood movement in patient’s legs.

How an Attorney Can Help You

DVT and PE, along with other types of blood clots, can be prevented through appropriate intervention. If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury from blood clots following surgery, it may be a result of hospital staff members or a physician’s falure to exercise due caution. If so, you will need professional help evaluating your claims. The attorneys at Younker Hyde Macfarlane have extensive experience prosecuting negligence that results in blood clot injuries and fatalities.  They will assist you in evaluating and prosecuting all valid claims you may have.

Contact the Medical Malpractice Team at Younker Hyde Macfarlane

For more information about your legal options related to a blood clot that formed or went unnoticed because of a doctor’s failure to exercise due caution, please contact our team of medical malpractice attorneys today. The legal team at Younker Hyde Macfarlane will fight diligently for you and your legal needs.

 

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