The ability of blood to clot is vital: when we are injured, a clot plugs the damage, stopping the bleeding and providing a mechanical defence against infection. The clot is protective. However, when clots occur where they are not necessary, they can cause harm. A blood clot in the lungs is called a Pulmonary Embolism.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot (thrombosis) that forms within a deep vein. DVT most commonly develops in the deep veins of the leg or calf but can occur within any deep vein including those within the pelvis or abdomen. DVT commonly occurs in the legs but can occur in any area of the body.
Typical symptoms of a leg DVT include pain and swelling in the leg and red, warm skin over the affected area. However, some DVTs do not cause any symptoms at all. The danger of DVTs is that there is a risk that a piece of the clot breaks off and enters the free-flowing blood stream, which takes blood to your lungs.
If a clot blocks off one of the blood vessels in your lungs, you could become seriously ill, with shortness of breath and chest pain. You may feel lightheaded and could cough up blood. If your symptoms are severe the clot can be quickly fatal. A clot formed this way in the lungs is called a pulmonary embolism (PE). Around 1 in every 10 people who have an untreated DVT will develop a PE. For this reason, DVTs and PEs require urgent medical attention.
There are several different tests which can help diagnose a DVT. A D-dimer blood test picks up the presence of a blood clot in your blood stream. However, the D-dimer count can also be raised because of other things such as recent injury or pregnancy, so it is only useful as an indicator that something may be wrong. A Doppler ultrasound scan of your leg can detect blood flow in your leg’s deep veins, and if there is a clot present, the flow will be slowed or even stopped completely. Finally, there is a venogram, during which a dye is injected into your leg blood vessels and an X ray is taken. A blocked vessel should show up clearly on the film.
Diagnosing a Pulmonary Embolism (PE)
In addition to the DVT tests, there are a couple of special tests that are used to see if there is a lung clot. Like the venogram for your leg, a pulmonary angiography is when dye is used to show up the blood flow in your lungs, and it is visualised using a CT scan, instead of an X-ray. Then there is a specialised scan known as a ventilation-perfusion or V/Q scan which examines both the blood and air flow in your lungs.
Treatment of DVT and Pulmonary Embolism (PE)
The main treatment for any type of clot is anticoagulant medication. These are drugs that stop the blood clotting quickly. If you are unable to take anticoagulant medication for any reason, it is possible to have a filter placed inside the largest vein ( the vena cava) which will trap any clots that may arise, preventing them going to your lungs.
DVT and COVID-19
New research into the COVID pandemic shows that a high number of patients who are seriously affected by the virus develop DVT.
In addition, around 1 in 4 people who become seriously ill with the coronavirus develop a PE.
What happens if a DVT is misdiagnosed?
At best you become susceptible to damage of the surrounding tissues and at worst you are vulnerable to the development of a life-threatening PE, which happens in around 50% of people with DVT.
DVT and Pulmonary Embolism Negligence Claims
To make a successful claim for medical negligence, it must be shown that a duty of care was owed to the patient and that duty of care was breached, causing harm.
If you think that you have been the victim of a DVT or PE misdiagnosis and that you have a case to claim for compensation, please get in touch with our specialist team.
Call 020 7485 8811 or complete our online enquiry form.
Our promise to you
- We will review your DVT negligence claim by advising you on the NHS complaints procedure or other alternative procedure if your case does not relate to NHS care and treatment.
- We provide a free initial consultation and case review
- We can assist you with any issues that you may have regarding the complaints procedure or that you encounter in obtaining copies of your medical records.
- We will advise you of the course of action in respect to your case.