Causes of Misdiagnosed Pulmonary Embolism: Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Misdiagnosed Pulmonary Embolisms: Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyer Explains Causes and Liability


A pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening, medical emergency.  A PE is a blood clot in the lungs which commonly obstructs the pulmonary artery in your lung.  The obstruction can be partially or completely.  The longer that a PE is allowed to exist blocking the artery, the more damage that it will do to a patient’s lungs and body.  As with heart attacks, the phrase for first responders and emergency room doctors is “time is tissue”; the longer the obstruction, the more tissue that is damaged.  This is why delays in identifying and treating a PE could be Oregon medical malpractice.


Common Symptoms of a Pulmonary Embolism


The signs of a PE could be subtle or absolutely drastic.  According to the CDC, approximately 900,000 people each year may be affected by a PE in the United States.  Knowing the symptoms of a PE is important for both you (as the patient) and for the healthcare provider (as the treating provider).  Some of the symptoms of a PE include the following:


  • Shortness of breath – most common symptom which appears suddenly and always gets work with exertion such was walking up stairs, running, or lifting objects, and breathing faster does not fix the problem;
  • Chest pain – the pain may be mild but present, or it could be significant and feel like a heart attack.  The pain may get worse when you breathe deep, bend, kneel, eat, cough, talk, yell, stretch, or some other tasks;
  • Coughing – you may begin to cough for no reason.  Some coughs may produce bloody phlegm/sputum;
  • Fever;
  • Leg pain or swelling – some PEs are caused by deep vein thrombosis or DVT, which is a mother type of clot in the legs that could break off and migrate to the lungs.  These are symptoms of the DVT which are usually risk factors for a PE;
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat;
  • Lightheadness;
  • Profuse sweating;
  • Dizziness; and
  • Many other symptoms.


As you can appreciate from this list, the symptoms vary greatly.  But it is also important to know that, also according to the CDC, approximately 25% of people who have a PE, “sudden death” is the first and only symptom.  This is how dangerous a PE can be, and how the symptoms vary greatly.


How do PE Misdiagnoses Happen?  Central Oregon Medical Malpractice


Since the symptoms vary and mimic other conditions, particularly a heart attack, some healthcare providers will fail to perform a full and thorough diagnostic.  Other healthcare providers, usually nurses in a hospital who are responsible for triage, will fail to identify the seriousness of the symptoms that a patient is having as PE.  These are serious medical errors which could be Oregon medical malpractice.


Some common manners in which a PE is misdiagnosed include the following:


  • Failure to test for a PE with imaging studies (CTPA) or blood tests (D-dimer);
  • Delaying treatment by failing to triage the patient;
  • Improperly identifying symptoms;
  • Not performing tests to rule out all likely conditions (i.e., checking for only a heart attack with an EKG, it comes back normal, and then discharging the patient without checking for a PE or a stroke, both of which tests like a blood test would indicate a blood clot is present);
  • Misinterpreting testing results such as the D-dimer or CTPA imaging;
  • Failure by imaging staff or radiologist to communicate positive results of a CTPA imaging study to the treating physician;
  • Failure to timely administer medication to bust the clot;
  • Overdosing the medications;
  • Not taking the patient’s complaints seriously; and
  • Many other causes.


Did You Have a Pulmonary Embolism (PE) Misdiagnosed?  Call Our Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyer to Learn Your Rights


A healthcare provider must take a patient who is exhibiting the signs of a PE very seriously.  If a healthcare provider makes any of the mistakes above, he or she may not have been acting as a reasonably prudent physician with the skill and knowledge necessary to fulfill his or her duty as a healthcare provider.  This means that the provider may be found negligent, allowing a victim or the victim’s family to obtain compensation due to Oregon medical malpractice.


We handle cases throughout Oregon and Central Oregon, including Deschutes County, Redmond, Sisters, La Pine, Madras, Prineville, The Dalles, Hood River, Clackamas, Corvallis, Albany, Lake Oswego, West Linn, Tigard, Salem, Portland, Hillsboro, Vancouver, Washington, Beaverton, Oregon City, Eugene, Coos Bay, Astoria, Newport, Pendleton, Tillamook,  Milwaukie, Gresham, Hillsboro, Medford, and any other city, including Bend, Oregon where our main law office is located, please call Kuhlman Law, LLC by dialing (541) 385-1999 to learn what your rights to compensation you may have.  You may also contact us using our easy and convenient “contact us” box at the bottom of our website.  If we accept your case, we will conduct a thorough investigation to get you the answers you deserve, all for free.  There is no risk, and you only pay us if we recover compensation for you.

    For a free case evaluation, fill out the form below

    The use of the internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

    OR Call
    Bend, Oregon: (541) 385-1999
    Portland: (503) 479-3646
    Minnesota: (612) 444-3374

    Our Office

    Kuhlman Law, LLC
    160 NW Irving Ave, Suite 203
    Bend, OR 97703