What are medicolegal concerns regarding pulmonary embolism (PE)?

Updated: Jun 06, 2019
  • Author: Daniel R Ouellette, MD, FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Answer

Pulmonary embolism is an extremely common disorder. It presents with nonspecific clinical features and requires specialized investigations for confirmation of diagnosis. Therefore, many patients die from unrecognized pulmonary embolism. The other common pitfalls are as follows:

  • Disregarding patient's complaints of unexplained dyspnea as anxiety or hyperventilation

  • Blaming complaints of unexplained chest pain on musculoskeletal pain

  • Failing to recognize, diagnose, and treat DVT

  • Failing to initiate an appropriate diagnostic workup in patients with symptoms consistent with pulmonary embolism

  • Failing to initiate therapeutic anticoagulant therapy with heparin in patients suspected to have pulmonary embolism, before the V/Q scan or other investigations

  • Failure to advise of risk factors, such as smoking, pregnancy, and use of the oral contraceptive pill

  • Failure to diagnose predisposing or associated conditions


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