In 2009 the Department of Health in England estimated that every year there were 25,000 preventable deaths from pulmonary embolism in English Hospitals.
Pulmonary Embolism is a blockage in the main artery of the lung by a substance that has migrated from elsewhere in the body. Very commonly this is following a deep venous thrombosis (DVT), where a clot forms in the leg. The pulmonary embolism occurs when the clot breaks off and travels up to the lungs.
There are well recognised risk factors for development of a DVT and several ways of assessing a patient's risk factors for DVT. One such risk factor is immobility and hence those who are bed ridden in hospital due to surgery must be carefully assessed for DVT. This is especially the case following orthopaedic surgery, such as knee or hip replacements.
If a DVT goes unrecognised and undiagnosed a pulmonary embolism can be the result.
The reason so many of the deaths were deemed to be preventable is because the treatment is usually simple. Patients' risk factors can be checked through a standardised test and anticoagulant medication, such as heparin, can be administered. If treatment is not administered, it is estimated that 26% of patients who suffer a pulmonary embolism will die.
Occasionally pulmonary embolism suffered in hospital could have been prevented with the provision of reasonable medical treatment. If you or someone you know has suffered a pulmonary embolism as a result of possible negligence contact one of our expert team to discuss your options for a claim.