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Medical Malpractice for Failure to Diagnosis Deep Vein Thrombosis

May 06, 2014

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) results when a blood clot forms in a deep vein within the body. A clot that is otherwise known as a thrombus can form in the deep veins of the legs, pelvis, and sometimes other areas like the arms. The danger with these types of clots is that they can break free and travel through the bloodstream. The blood clots can end up in the lungs where they can become lodged in an artery and block blood flow to the lung.

When blood flow is blocked to the lung, this condition is called a pulmonary embolism (PE). The clot itself is called an "embolus." An embolism like this can cause tissue damage to the lung or reduce the blood oxygen level to the lung which can prove fatal in some cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 300,000 to 600,000 Americans experience DVT and pulmonary embolism each year and that 60,000 to 100,000 people die from this condition annually.


There are certain individuals that can be at risk for developing DVT. Those most at risk for suffering a DVT include those in the following groups or with the following traits:

  • Smokers
  • Obesity
  • Recent surgery or injuries
  • Immobility

The symptoms of DVT can be missed or misdiagnosed. This can be extremely dangerous because a person may think that they have something simple like a leg cramp or strain when they actually are experiencing symptoms of DVT. Symptoms of DVT frequently include the following:

  • Pain or swelling in the leg area
  • Redness along with the swelling
  • Dilation of surface veins
  • Burning or increased warmth in the swollen area

If someone is experiencing a pulmonary embolism, they also frequently experience shortness of breath, some chest pain, high pulse rate and/or low blood pressure.

Physicians must comply with the appropriate standard of care in screening patients that are at high risk for DVT or PE. When a diagnosis is made in a timely manner, these conditions can be treatable. Unfortunately, these conditions often are not diagnosed promptly or are misdiagnosed. When a timely diagnosis is made, blood thinners and anticoagulation drugs often can be prescribed to alleviate these conditions. There also are tests that can be performed to determine whether a person has DVT. Physicians also must comply with the appropriate standard of care based on a patient's medical history, physical exam and testing to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Tests used to diagnose DVT include:

  • Ultrasound - Sound waves create images of the blood flow through the affected location in the body.
  • A D-dimer test – The test measures a substance in the blood that is released when a clot dissolves.
  • Venography - Dye is actually injected into a vein using a catheter, and an X-ray is taken of the leg and the affected vein.

If you or someone you love is seriously injured or dies because a physician failed to diagnose deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism, this may constitute medical malpractice depending on the specific facts and circumstances. Contact the Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys at Montlick and Associates to discuss your legal rights. Our firm has been representing those who suffer serious injuries or wrongful death for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.