After surgery you and your loved ones can breathe a sigh of relief: there were no complications, and no indications of any kind of surgical mistake or other doctor error. The procedure being completed, you are now resting comfortably in your bed in your hospital room. As far as risks are concerned, you say to yourself, the worst is now behind you.
Or is it?
One possibly lethal consequence of a surgery can occur after the surgery is over: a pulmonary embolism.
A pulmonary embolism happens when a blood clot, typically forming in a leg, breaks free and travels through your circulatory system to one of your lungs. Once there, it could cause significant lung damage or even kill you if it blocks an artery to the lung.
The type of potentially dangerous blood clot that can form in your leg represents a condition medically known as deep vein thrombosis. While there can be several different causes of a DVT, some of them can be directly related to surgery or its aftermath. These include damage to a vein as a direct result of surgery, not only on the legs but also in the hips, abdomen or brain. Childbirth by cesarean section can also result in this condition.
Another possible cause is prolonged inactivity, such as having to remain in bed for an extended period of time. If, for example, after surgery you are left in your hospital room without being monitored and with no opportunity to get out of bed, your risk of deep vein thrombosis leading to a pulmonary embolism may increase.
One of the dangers of a pulmonary embolism is that through possible negligence its symptoms can lend themselves to a misdiagnosis. A doctor may mistake it for another condition, such as pneumonia or a heart attack. If such a misdiagnosis results in delayed treatment, the results could be catastrophic.
About 300,000 people every year experience a deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism or both. It is difficult to say how many of these instances may be the result of medical malpractice. But if you believe that you or a loved one may have suffered from a pulmonary embolism connected with a hospital stay, an experienced personal injury attorney in Connecticut may be able to help you explore whether such a connection may exist, and what legal options you may have.