Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Misdiagnosis From Negligent Medical Care
When we report alarming symptoms to a doctor, we like to think our problem will receive full attention and an accurate diagnosis. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and when you develop deep vein thrombosis, that can escalate to disability and even death.
When a doctor fails to diagnose deep vein thrombosis on time, you may face extensive symptoms or even a pulmonary embolism. Even if you or your loved one survive the ordeal, you remain at increased risk for another episode and must deal with the lack of trust you know have for medical professionals. Fortunately, you may receive compensation for your additional bills and even your mental distress.
When you need a medical malpractice attorney, our law firm is here for you. The Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm offers New York medical negligence victims a chance to receive financial compensation and support when they face the unthinkable.
If you suffer the effects of a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, contact us today at (212) 869-3500 to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation.
What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in one or more of the body’s deep veins. They usually occur in the legs and may present without symptoms.
Those with blot clot conditions are at the highest risk of DVT. Also, if you are on bed rest, sit still for hours while working or traveling, or recently had surgery, you are also in a high-risk group for this condition.
Other risk factors for DVT include:
- Age: DVT is most likely to affect people over 60. However, you can develop DVT at any age if you have other risk factors.
- Pregnancy: Being pregnant places additional pressure on your legs and hips, which leave you vulnerable to DVT. This vulnerability increases if you have a family history of blood clots.
- Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy: Both types of medication affect blood clotting ability.
- Obesity: Like pregnancy, extra body weight adds pressure to your legs and hips, increasing the chances of blood clots.
- Smoking: Smokers are more likely to develop clotting disorders than nonsmokers.
- Cancer: Some types of cancers affect blood clotting and circulation. Even if your cancer does not have this effect, your cancer treatment may leave you exposed to DVT.
- Heart issues: If you have heart failure, your heart function decreases and increases your risk of DVT and pulmonary embolism. Your symptoms are also more noticeable if you have a heart condition.
- Inflammatory bowel conditions: Those with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis face a greater risk of DVT.
- Family history: If you or a family member suffered DVT or a pulmonary embolism, you are at greater risk of developing DVT. Also, genetic conditions, like factor V Leiden, make blood clots more likely. While genetics alone does not expose you to DVT, it can increase your risk if you present any other risk factors.
When DVT is misdiagnosed and untreated, it may result in a pulmonary embolism (PE). This potentially life-threatening condition occurs when the blood clot in your leg or other body part travels to your lung. There, it blocks your lung’s blood vessels and makes oxygen absorption difficult.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of DVT?
Approximately 350,000 to 600,000 patients develop DVT every year. Common symptoms of DVT include:
- Swelling in the affected limb
- Leg pain that feels like cramps or soreness. It often starts in the calf.
- Red or discolored skin on the affected limb
- Visible veins
- Warmth in affected limb
If suspected of DVT, your doctor or healthcare provider should run tests, especially if you face any risk factors. Diagnosis often involves an ultrasound of your legs or other affects limbs to see if your blood flow is normal. Typically, an ultrasound and D-dimer test are sufficient. A D-dimer blood test detects proteins produced by blood clots. If the D-dimer level is high, you may be in PE territory. Other diagnostic tests may include venography (x-ray of the veins) or an MRI scan.
Once diagnosed, medical professionals treat DVT with blood thinners. If the clot is severe or in the early stages of a PE, doctors prescribe clot busters. Patients who cannot take blood thinners may have filters and stents injected into their veins. The filter prevents clots from traveling to the lungs.
There are cases where patients present no signs of DVT. In those cases, they may report to medical professionals when they face PE symptoms:
- Sudden shortness of breath
- Chest pain that worsens when you breathe deeply or cough
- Light-headed or dizzy feelings
- Rapid breathing
- Coughing up blood
A PE can be fatal. However, you raise your chances of survival if you report to the emergency room right away.
What Causes DVT Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis?
The problem with DVT is doctors frequently misdiagnose it or delay the diagnosis. Both oversights are extremely risky. DVT and PE cause 100,000 deaths annually and are common causes of sudden death.
Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis often occur because DVT resembles other more benign medical conditions. A doctor may confuse DVT for:
- Sprains and strains
- Common muscle pain after activity
- General immobility
Doctors also fail to consider a patient’s risk factors. If a patient reports DVT symptoms and has a history of heart failure, the doctor should check for DVT with ultrasounds and blood tests. But there are too many cases where doctors assume it is something else, and patients may be in danger of PE.
The worst effect of misdiagnosis is death, as PE is frequently fatal. Other issues include Post-Phlebitic Syndrome, which causes persistent leg swelling, leg ulcers, discoloration, and reduced mobility. If symptoms become bad enough, patients often face amputation or permanent varicose veins.
Recovering Compensation with a DVT Misdiagnosis Lawsuit
Doctors must conform to a standard of care when diagnosing medical conditions. You may have a malpractice and personal injury claim for DVT misdiagnosis if your doctor:
- Fails to run the correct tests
- Never performs an ultrasound on your legs or other affected limbs
- Provides the wrong treatment
- Misreads test results
- Fails to followup on test results
- Delays diagnosis until you or a loved one develops a PE
- Fails to fully consider a patient’s medical history, including a history of DVT
If these mistakes occur and the patient survives, it is a personal injury claim. The patient pursues damages due to the injury and additional expenses. However, if medical malpractice results in death, a patient’s loved ones have a wrongful death claim.
Compensation is similar whether you file a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Your settlement amount depends on economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are documented and straightforward. Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical bills from additional treatment
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity (if DVT causes disability)
- Future medical expenses (if DVT causes disability)
- Costs for needed services (if DVT causes disability)
- Loss of financial support (wrongful death)
- Funeral expenses (wrongful death)
- Final illness medical expenses (wrongful death)
Noneconomic damages are subjective and depend on the individual. They are often difficult to put a monetary value on noneconomic damages because we do not objective evidence like statements or paystubs. These damages rely on a patient’s outlook, experience, and testimony.
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship (wrongful death)
Medical malpractice holds individual doctors responsible. However, if you received treatment in a hospital emergency room, the hospital may also be responsible. When our medical malpractice lawyers take your case, we investigate all of these possibilities to ensure maximum compensation.
Helping Patients after DVT Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose
It is frightening to imagine that doctors may overlook something as potentially deadly as DVT. If you or a loved one falls victim to this oversight, you likely seek justice. While justice and monetary compensation cannot restore your health or resurrect your loved one, they can make your new challenges easier to handle.
The trial lawyers at the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm offer extensive experience representing victims and their loved ones in medical malpractice cases including misdiagnosis. We handled thousands of cases and remain dedicated to victims of medical errors.
If you believe you suffered effects from DVT misdiagnosis or late diagnosis, call us at (212) 869-3500 to schedule a free consultation.