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A pulmonary embolism is a blockage in the pulmonary artery which carries blood from the heart to the lungs. This blockage, usually a blood clot, is potentially life-threatening.
The symptoms of a pulmonary embolism can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because they do vary between individuals. Most people with a pulmonary embolism will experience a sharp, stabbing pain in the chest that may be worse when they breathe in or a pronounced shortness of breath. Other warning signs include a persistent cough and some people may cough up blood or mucus that contains blood or feel faint and dizzy.
Anyone with these symptoms, particularly if you are high risk through already suffering from deep vein thrombosis, should see their GP as soon as possible. Your doctor should be able to quickly diagnose a pulmonary embolism once the symptoms are understood and if they are particularly severe, an emergency hospital admission is called for.
Claims will arise because there has been a failure to recognise a patient who is at risk of developing a pulmonary embolism or provide treatment to help prevent the condition. Equally there may be negligence in failing to diagnose the symptoms or arrange tests to help make a firm diagnosis which in turn leads to a failure to treat a pulmonary embolism.
If a GP or any other medical professional fails to perform their duties of diagnosis and treatment, causing complications and harm, a claim for medical negligence may be possible.
How do I make a claim about a pulmonary embolism
This is specialist work. It is important that your chosen law firm has the legal expertise and the medical knowledge to understand and appreciate what evidence is required and to interpret and question that evidence when it is obtained.
Your lawyers must also have relationships with the appropriate medical and other experts who can assess your immediate health needs and support you may require.
Shoosmiths must be able to show that you received sub-standard treatment, such as a failure to carry out a risk assessment for pulmonary embolism and we must be able to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that you suffered harm as a direct consequence of that sub-standard treatment.
In a case concerning a negligent failure to prescribe anti-coagulants (blood thinning medication) or properly test INR levels (that is how long it takes the blood to clot) we have to prove that this lead to a worse outcome.
Where a diagnosis of a pulmonary embolism was delayed, either by your GP or admitting hospital staff especially if you were known to be ‘at risk’, that delay would also constitute negligence.
If you feel you may have a case, call us for a free initial consultation. We can give you the benefit of our long experience in such claims and an objective assessment of the likely success of your claim.
If I have a case about pulmonary embolism
Establishing whether you have a case for making a compensation claim for a pulmonary embolism requires the same investigation as any other claim for clinical negligence. To succeed in a claim we need to show that there was a breach of the duty owed to you by the responsible clinician in for example not anti-coagulating after surgery; failing to test for DVT; failing to diagnose the condition misinterpreting tests and delaying a diagnosis or failing to follow established guidelines.
The onus will be on you with the experience and skills of our expert lawyers to prove on the balance of probability, (i.e. that there is a greater than 50% chance) that it was those failures that were directly responsible for the injuries and physical harm you suffered.
There are time limits (usually three years) within which you can claim so whatever your circumstances you should contact us as soon as possible. We can then give you free initial advice about whether a claim can be made.
The value of your compensation claim will depend on the nature and severity of your injury, whether you recover fully or if there is long term effect on your health. These can be complex, lengthy and demanding cases. The first thing to do is to contact an expert law firm like Shoosmiths which specialises in this sort of work and can advise you if you have a case that is likely to succeed.
More about pulmonary embolisms claims
Pulmonary embolisms are closely associated with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and medical professionals should remain aware of the risk posed to patients with DVT. Other factors that can increase the chance of a pulmonary embolism include age, smoking, obesity, pregnancy and general inactivity.
Medical conditions such as cancer, having had a previous clot, genetic conditions and having an operation on the lower half of the body (such as a C-Section) can also make a patient more susceptible to a pulmonary embolism.
Knowledge of these risk factors should allow doctors to make a quick and accurate diagnosis, which can be confirmed by a series of simple tests. All patients who are admitted to hospital should be assessed for blood-clot risk. If they are found to be in one of these ‘at-risk’ categories, preventative treatment such as anticoagulant medication should be immediately prescribed.
Even if a pulmonary embolism is diagnosed, regular anticoagulant treatment using drugs like heparin may be prescribed for several months. Your GP or anti-coagulation clinic should conduct regular blood tests to check that the dose of medication is correct. If it’s too high, you may experience uncontrollable bleeding, but if it is too low, further blood clots may occur. If a GP or clinic fails to carry out these checks and you suffer complications as a result, a claim may be justified.
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