What Are Blood Clots and Pulmonary Embolisms?

Blood clots are a risk to your health and can lead to pulmonary embolisms. You want to avoid having them.

“A blood clot is a clump of blood that has changed from a liquid to a gel-like or semisolid state. Clotting is a necessary process that can prevent you from losing too much blood in certain instances, such as when you’re injured or cut.” (2)

“A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a sudden blockage in a lung artery. It usually happens when a blood clot breaks loose and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs.” (3)

Increased Risks for Blood Clots and Pulmonary Embolism

Usually, “blood clots start as a response to injury of a blood vessel.” Any time you undergo a surgical procedure at a hospital or other health care facility, you face increased risk of a blood clot or pulmonary embolism. Even a slight injury to a blood vessel can activate your body’s response. (4)

When an injury occurs to a blood vessel, the blood stays right there initially. A protective clot begins to form from two substances: platelets and fibrin. (5)

Platelets are a type of blood cell. Fibrin is a strong string-like substance. These substances come together to form “what is called a platelet plug.” They plug up the cut or hole in the blood vessel. (6)

Being immobile for long periods of time poses a real danger. “Long hospital stays, surgeries and trauma may significantly increase your risk of blood clots.” (7)

Sometimes blood clots do not stay in one spot. They may move throughout your body. These moving clots are particularly dangerous.

Blood clots can travel to the lungs, heart, and brain. Life-threatening and irreversible damage is possible. (8)

If you suffered because a doctor failed to prevent a blood clot or pulmonary embolism, you may be eligible for compensation.

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Symptoms of Blood Clots and Pulmonary Embolisms

Experienced health care providers should know the most common blood clot signs and risk factors. They should know how to prevent clots and PEs from occurring.

Whether you have had an inpatient or outpatient procedure, your health care provider should be on the lookout for potentially serious blood clots. When you leave the hospital or other facility, they should provide you with appropriate postoperative instructions and follow-up care. (9)

Possible symptoms of a blood clot in a deep vein include: (10)

  • Swelling.
  • Pain.
  • Tenderness.
  • Redness of the skin.

Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include: (11)

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Irregular or unusually fast heartbeat.
  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Extremely low blood pressure, fainting, or light-headedness.

Causes of Blood Clots and Pulmonary Embolisms

Blood clots can occur when you get hurt, such as if you fall. But there is not always a known cause. “Blood clots form when certain parts of your blood thicken, forming a semisolid mass. This process may be triggered by an injury or it can sometimes occur inside blood vessels that don’t have an obvious injury,” according to the Mayo Clinic. (12)

The cause of a pulmonary embolism “is usually a blood clot in the leg called a deep vein thrombosis that breaks loose and travels through the bloodstream to the lung.” (13)

Injuries Caused by Pulmonary Embolisms

Pulmonary embolisms can lead to severe medical complications. These include: (14)

  • Permanent damage to the lungs – Lung tissue can be irreversibly damaged when blood cannot reach your lungs because of a blood clot. (15)
  • Low oxygen levels in your blood – This condition is called hypoxemia. Depending on how low your levels are, you can experience everything from headaches and shortness of breath to decreased brain and heart function. (16)
  • Damage to other organs in your body from not getting enough oxygen – Your body needs oxygen to function properly. “Without oxygen, the brain, liver, and other organs can begin to sustain damage mere minutes after symptoms start.” (17)
  • Death – Blood clots and pulmonary embolisms can kill you. “Up to one-third of patients with a pulmonary embolism (PE) will die of cardiac arrest before the dangerous clot is identified in a hospital or emergency department. A big reason for the high mortality rate is that the symptoms of PE are typically non-specific until it progresses to an emergency situation.” (18)

Failure to Prevent Blood Clots and PE

When blood clots develop and lead to a PE, they can cause a heart attack or stroke. Medical malpractice occurs when a patient who is at high risk of clots or PE isn’t properly monitored and treated to prevent them. Or a blood clot or PE isn’t correctly diagnosed.

There are medications and medical equipment to help prevent blood clots from forming. You might suffer from avoidable blood clots if a health care professional does not give you the appropriate medication. Or if the equipment is misused or malfunctions – or not used at all.

Some research suggests, “The most frequently cited negligent act was the failure to give prophylactic anticoagulation, even after discharge.” (19)

Researchers reviewed cases from three decades and found, “The most frequently claimed injury was death in 222 cases (80%).” (20)

Did your doctor fail to prevent a blood clot or pulmonary embolism? Contact us today for a free case review.

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Blood Clot Legal Options

If medical professionals fail to properly diagnose and treat your blood clot or pulmonary embolism, you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. It may also be medical malpractice if they do not appropriately monitor a patient who is at high risk, and fail in their medical responsibility to prevent a likely clot or PE.

If your blood clot injury occurred in New York, you need guidance from a reputable New York personal injury attorney. You need someone with extensive medical malpractice litigation experience.

Malpractice is a specific type of law. Although every state has medical malpractice laws, each state follows its own specific statutes of limitation and regulations. You need to consult with someone who knows the ins and outs of your particular state’s complex legal process.

Once you find the right attorneys and firm for you, they know exactly how to assist you. They work with you to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your specific circumstances.

How W&L Can Help

Weitz & Luxenberg is based in the heart of New York City. Our attorneys have been handling medical malpractice cases across the state of New York for decades.

If you were severely injured due to your doctor’s negligence in preventing your blood clot or pulmonary embolism – or if a loved one died – our attorneys can help you.

We can provide you with legal guidance. You may be entitled to compensation. Plus, we have a proven track record of winning.

Here are a couple examples of our successes:

  • $1.2 million settlement – A young woman underwent a tummy tuck at an outpatient facility. Shortly afterwards, she developed a pulmonary embolism. Ultimately, she died. The equipment the doctor used during her surgery to prevent a PE was found to be defective.
  • $500,000 – A woman’s uterus was irreversibly damaged following a basic OB/GYN procedure. This damage was due to multiple misdiagnoses, botched surgeries, and severe complications. One of these potentially life-threatening complications was a pulmonary embolism.