Oregon Medical Malpractice Includes a Failure to Diagnose a Blood Clot
Many people are familiar with the term “blood clot”. Blood clots can form in many places in your body, but a commonplace for a blood clot to start is in the arms or legs. This is referred to as deep vein thrombosis. Blood clots can be very dangerous and if left untreated, can progress to a stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, or even death. Patients with deep vein thrombosis often present with symptoms that indicate they may be experiencing a DVT. If a healthcare provider fails to identify this problem or fails to appropriately treat this problem, it can lead to any of the above complications. DVTs are often easily diagnosable with the use of duplex ultrasound, while other times venography or MRI is required. When this occurs, it is considered to be medical malpractice due to negligence. Patients who come in with complaints that could indicate that a blood clot is present should be taken very seriously and immediately evaluated. Any delay or failure to diagnose a blood clot is serious.
What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?
This type of blood clot occurs often in the deep veins of the legs. A blood clot is also known as a thrombus. Sometimes, blood clots can occur in more than one of the deep veins of the legs (or arms), while other times it affects just one of the deep veins.
Who is at Risk for DVT?
Some people may get a deep vein thrombosis without any risk factors while other people are at a higher risk for this problem due to certain risk factors they may have. Examples of common risk factors for DVT include the following:
- Family history of DVT
- Prior or current injury to deep vein
- Recent surgery
- Are obese or overweight
- Prolonged periods of sitting (i.e. during a long plane ride)
- Recent injury involving the hips, pelvis, or lower extremities
- Birth control use or hormonal therapy use
- Women who are pregnant
- Women who are in the first six weeks postpartum
- Currently have a catheter placed in a deep vein
- Are over the age of 50
- Patients with cancer
- Certain types of anesthesia used during a surgery involving the hips, lower extremities, or pelvis
- Patients undergoing surgery for a malignancy
- Certain clotting disorders, such as activated protein C resistance, deficiency of protein S, antithrombin III, deficiency or protein C
- History of prior DVT
- Heart failure
What are the Symptoms of DVT?
While some patients may present with symptoms of DVT, others may exhibit no signs or symptoms at all. Common symptoms of DVT include the following:
- Unilateral swelling (swelling in one leg, foot, or ankle)
- Redness or skin discoloration of the affected leg (i.e. pale or bluish color)
- Unusual warmth of the affected leg
- Pain in the leg, which usually feels like cramping
What May Doctors Identify On Examination in a Patient with a DVT?
It is a healthcare provider’s responsibility to fully assess a patient with possible signs or symptoms of a blood clot. Patients who may be experiencing a blood clot may present with certain signs that may indicate to a healthcare provider that a blood clot may be present. Examples of these indicators include the following:
- Palpable cord (palpable thrombotic vein)
- Cyanosis of the affected extremity
- Positive Homans sign – This sign is a physical examination technique for the identification of DVT. This occurs if dorsiflexion of the ankle joint with the knee that is flexed at a 30-degree angle produces pain in the upper part of the calf
- Positive Louvel sign – Patients with a positive Louvel sign will complain of worsening pain in their calf when they sneeze or cough
- Positive Lowenberg Sign – A blood pressure cuff is placed around each calf. if the pain is experienced in the affected calf at a lower pressure than the unaffected calf, it can indicate deep vein thrombosis
What are the Potential Complications of Deep Vein Thrombosis?
There are many potential complications that can occur due to an undiagnosed, untreated, or improperly treated DVT. If improperly managed, the blood clot can travel to other areas of the body, causing serious complications. Examples of these complications include the following:
- Pulmonary Embolism – A pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening condition that can occur as a result of a mismanaged or undiagnosed DVT. This occurs when a blood clot from another area of the body (usually the leg) travels to the lung, blocking off a blood vessel in the lung. People with a pulmonary embolism may complain of new-onset shortness of breath, feeling faint, chest pain on inhalation or with coughing, or may cough up blood (hemoptysis)
- Postphlebitic syndrome – this can occur due to damage in the vein from the blood clot, reducing blood flow to the affected areas. It can cause skin discoloration, leg pain, swelling, and skin sores
- Death – If left untreated, DVT can cause complications such as pulmonary embolism, which can lead to death
How is DVT Treated?
DVT is typically treated with the use of an anticoagulant. Some anticoagulants are oral (by mouth) such as Coumadin, Eliquis, and Warfarin, while others are injectable such as Lovenox and Heparin. These drugs work by reducing the ability of blood clots to form.
How Can Medical Malpractice Cause DVT, or Cause Complications from DVT?
While there are times when a DVT can occur without any warning or any signs, there are times when it could either be treated appropriately to prevent further complications or could be entirely prevented. Examples of medical malpractice in relation to deep vein thrombosis include the following:
- Failure to use proper DVT prophylaxis techniques during surgery and post-surgery (i.e. use of anti-embolism stockings during and after surgery, use of Lovenox or heparin after surgery, use of sequential compression devices, and encouragement of ambulation
- Failure to diagnose DVT
- Failure to listen to a patient’s complaints when they come in with signs and symptoms of DVT
- Failure to order and conduct proper testing on a patient with suspected DVT
- Failure to prescribe the appropriate treatment for a patient with DVT
- Failure to use anticoagulant prophylaxis in a person with a high risk of DVT
- Failure to diagnose complications from DVT, such as pulmonary embolism
Get Help From Our Medical Malpractice Lawyer After a Failure to Diagnose a Blood Clot
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form. We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.
Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton, Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles, St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.
We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.