Failure to Diagnose a Pulmonary Embolism: Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Failure to Diagnose a Pulmonary Embolism in Oregon: Medical Malpractice Lawyer Explains Rights


A pulmonary embolism, or PE, is a medical emergency and must be immediately treated by a healthcare professional or it could lead to the death of a patient.  Pulmonary embolisms are blood clots that occur in the lungs, similar to how a blood clot in the brain and cause a stroke or a blood clot in the heart can cause a heart attack.  The cause of a blood clot in the lungs is usually caused by a migrating blood clot from the leg known as deep vein thrombosis, or DVT.  This DVT breaks off and gets lodged in the lungs, causing a PE.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 900,000 people could be affected each year in the United States.  It is established between 60,000 and 100,000 Americans die each year from this DVT/PE blood clot, with 10 to 30% dying in the first month of diagnosis.  Sudden death occurs in about 25% of these people and that is the first and only symptom.  About 33% of people will have a recurrence of this DVT/PE within 10 years.  Approximately one-half of the suffers will have some long-term complication in the limb where the DVT originated from (such as permanent swelling, pain, discoloration, scaling, or pins and needles).


Needles to say the statistics are shocking and scary.  This is why PE need to be immediately treated by a healthcare professional or it could be a serious instance of Oregon medical malpractice.


Failure to Diagnose a Pulmonary Embolism in an Emergency Room: Bend Medical Malpractice Lawyer Explains Liability


Under Oregon common law, or judge-made law, a physician owes a duty of reasonable care to a patient that at reasonably prudent physician with like experiences, training, and skill would exercise under similar circumstances.  This duty means that a physician must act as the average physician would have under the same circumstances.  In the case of a pulmonary embolism, a physician must take certain steps to protect the health and safety of a patient or the doctor could be liable for medical malpractice.


A competent physician must take the following steps:


  • When a patient presents himself or herself to the hospital with the signs and symptoms of a PE, this patient must be triaged high to be seen immediately;
  • Healthcare staff should perform a D-dimer test (a blood test which tests for a specific protein that indicates a serious and major blood clot);
  • While the results of the D-dimer test are being checks, imaging tests must be performed of the lungs to locate the exact location of the PE (likely using a CT pulmonary angiography or CTPA).  This is considered the “gold standard” for diagnosing any PE and is the main part of the standard of care;
  • When confirmed there is a clot on either the D-dimer or CTPA, anticoagulation (clot buster) medications must be given immediately;
  • More imaging studies must be performed to rule-out other clots and to confirm the clot that was present is gone;
  • The patient then must be closely monitored for other complications.


If any of these steps were not performed or performed in an unreasonable way that a reasonably prudent physician in similar circumstances would not have performed, there may be a claim for Oregon medical malpractice.  Generally the failure to diagnose a PE comes from a hospital not triaging the patient high enough to get immediate care, and the failure of the doctor to perform the appropriate tests to treat the most important and dangerous condition first—the PE—rather than other conditions that could be causing the same symptoms.


Victims Who Have Permanent Limb or Lung Damage, or Families How Have Lost a Loved One to a PE Misdiagnosis, Should Call Kuhlman Law, LLC


A PE is a medical emergency that must be immediately treated by a healthcare provider.  The failure to do so is not only likely to lead to life-changing injuries, but can also be life-threatening.  If you or a loved one have been injured due to a healthcare provider misdiagnosing a PE, please call our Bend medical malpractice lawyer to learn what your rights to compensation may be.


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.

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