DVT Medical Negligence Solicitors – Deep Vein Thrombosis Claims





Thrombosis or pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs where a blood vessel is blocked by a blood clot or other biological substance that has travelled through the bloodstream and is known clinically as a thrombolytic event. The two main types of thrombolytic event that give rise to a solicitors medical negligence compensation claim are venous thromboembolism (VTE) and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Failure to diagnose and properly treat a venous thromboembolism or DVT may amount to medical negligence and entitle the victim to make a DVT solicitors claim for compensation. Medical negligence by a healthcare practitioner which includes hospitals, clinics, specialists, doctors, nurses and technicians may occur in the following circumstances, which are not exclusive :-

  • failure to diagnose a blood clot
  • failure to act promptly once a blood clot is diagnosed
  • failure to follow established protocols once diagnosis is confirmed
  • failure to prescribe adequate medication either pre or post-surgery if appropriate.
  • Failure to prescribe adequate medication

DVT Risk Factors

It is estimated that there are over 10,000 unnecessary deaths annually in the United Kingdom due to deep vein thrombosis that could have been treated had adequate medical care been administered. The highest risk category for DVT is represented by those who have recently undergone surgery and it is estimated that about 50% of all hospital in patients are at risk. In addition there is increased risk for pregnant women, those with problematic circulation, air travellers and those suffering from a myriad of other illnesses the risk from which increases with age. Serious consideration is being given to make a risk assessment for thrombosis or pulmonary embolism for all new in patients. The main causes of blood clots are as follows :-

  • immobility ( including travel, surgery, illness or injury)
  • contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • age related risk factors
  • pregnancy
  • obesity
  • certain medical conditions and illnesses
  • damaged veins (vasculitis, certain drug use or abuse, previous DVT)

Deep Vein Thrombosis DVT Solicitors

Most medical negligence compensation claims relating to deep vein thrombosis are based on a failure to diagnose DVT, with common symptoms such as swollen ankles or swollen calf being associated with other less serious conditions. There is however a number of tests that can unequivocally diagnose DVT and failure to instigate investigations by a doctor or nurse may amount to medical negligence. Our lawyers are medical negligence specialists, certified by the Solicitors Regulation Authority as clinical negligence experts. Our deep vein thrombosis solicitors operate the no win no fee scheme otherwise known as a conditional fee agreement. No legal charge is payable unless the legal case is won and the client obtains an award of compensation. In the event that the legal claim is lost there is no charge made to the client. If you would like free advice from a DVT solicitor with no further obligation just call the helpline.

Deep Vein Thrombosis - DVT Information

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a disease in which a clot forms within one or more of the deep veins in the body. Deep vein thromboses are more common in the legs but can form in the deep veins of the arms and chest as well. Leg pain is the most common symptom but many people have few or no symptoms of the disease. You can get a deep vein thrombosis if you're on bed rest, if you sit for a long time in a car or plan or if you have a condition of increased clotting. It can be a serious condition with fatal complications. Most DVTs dissolve on their own, however, and half of all DVTs have no symptoms at all.

If symptoms do exist, it often causes swelling in the foot and ankle of the affected leg. There can be calf pain or ankle and foot pain. There can be warmth and redness over the back of the lower leg and you can get arm and neck pain if the DVT is occurring in the arm, axilla or neck. You should see a doctor if you get signs or symptoms of this condition as the complications can be serious.

The most serious complication of a deep vein thrombosis is unexplained shortness of breath, when the DVT breaks off and causes a pulmonary embolus. If you get chest pain that gets worse when you take a deep breath or cough, this could mean you have a pulmonary embolism. Light headed feelings, dizziness or fainting should be looked at as should coughing up blood or having an anxious feeling of impending doom.

Risk factors include:

  • Having a blood clotting disorder
  • Sitting or lying for long periods of time
  • Hospital or home bed rest
  • Having an injury that affects the veins in your legs or arms
  • Having cancer
  • Pregnancy
  • Having poor blood circulation as in congestive heart failure
  • Using hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills
  • Having a tube within the vein
  • Having a previous DVT or pulmonary embolus
  • Having a family history of DVT or pulmonary embolism
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Having a history of smoking

The pulmonary embolism or PE is the worst complication of a deep vein thrombosis. It happens when the DVT or portions thereof break off and travel to the lungs. The clot interferes with blood flow to the lungs and, depending on the size of the clot, the condition can be immediately fatal. If not immediately fatal, you can get shortness of breath, lightheadness or dizziness, coughing up blood, fainting and a sense of anxiety or nervousness.

A condition called post-thrombotic syndrome can occur after getting a DVT. The symptoms of post-thrombotic syndrome include leg pain, swelling of the legs, and a brow discoloration to the skin.

The diagnosis of DVT is made by using an ultrasound that can compress the artery and show whether or not flow is going through the artery. An ultrasound is often repeated over several days to check on the growth of the DVT. CT scans can also show clots within veins as can MRI exams. Clots may be found incidentally when the scans are done for other reasons. Those who have an active DVT show evidence in the blood of an elevated D-dimer. An increased D-dimer test is suspicious for DVT. In difficult cases, a venogram can be done in which a dye is inserted into the vein and x-rays show up where the dye is present and where it isn't; i.e. where a clot is present.

Treatment of a DVT includes using blood thinner or anticoagulant medications that help decrease the ability of the blood to clot. Heparin is used initially until the clot is breaking up and then the individual is given warfarin or Coumadin that continues the process of blood thinning. Your body still has to break up the clot on its own, however. Blood thinners may be necessary for up to three months or more. In severe cases, clot busters are used to break up the clot and prevent the formation of a pulmonary embolus. Filters can be used to prevent pieces of the clot from breaking off and going to the lungs. Usually the filter is placed in the vena cava. Compression stockings are used to keep the swelling down and to keep flow going through your veins as much as possible.

Pulmonary Embolism and DVT

A pulmonary embolism and DVT are related. Deep vein thromboses are blood clots that form in the deep veins of your body. Usually the deep veins of the legs are involved and uncommonly the deep veins of the upper arm are affected. If deep vein thromboses are not treated, the blood clot can break off and go to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. Of the two, the pulmonary embolism is more dangerous.

A deep vein thrombosis has many causes. Blood clots can form after prolonged travel with your legs down, after a pacemaker has been passed through the groin, being on chronic bed rest, smoking cigarettes, breaking your legs or pelvis, having recently given birth, having heart failure or a family history of blood clots. Those who are obese or have recently had lower extremity or back surgery or have a blood disorder called polycythemia vera (too many blood cells) are at risk for deep vein thrombosis. If you have cancer, your blood is thicker and you can have a genetic disease causing increased clotting. Smoking while taking birth control can put you at risk for a DVT.

A DVT may have no symptoms but if you have symptoms, you'll have red, swollen and warm lower legs, or pain in one leg but not the other. Swelling of one leg but not the other indicates the possibility of a DVT.

Your doctor may test for a deep vein thrombosis by doing a D-dimer test or an ultrasound test of the legs to check the blood flow in the legs. A test called plethysmography measures the rate of blood flow through the legs and x-rays with dye may show if blood clots are in the legs. Doctors may also do a series of blood tests to see if your blood clots abnormally or not.

In order to prevent a DVT from becoming a pulmonary embolism (PE), doctors start the patient on an anticoagulant. Most of these drugs aren't clot busters and won't get rid of the clot but will allow it to go away on its own. Heparin is the most common drug given; it is given by IV at the hospital until your blood is thin. Then you are started on warfarin (Coumadin), which is an oral medication that allows you to go home and further recover. You will likely be on Coumadin for about three months and your blood will be monitored frequently to make sure it is the right thickness. You should always take Coumadin as described. If the dose is too high, you can have bleeding complications.

Other treatments include wearing TEDS stockings to pressurize the blood in the legs, the placement of a filter in the vena cava to prevent clots from going into the lungs or removal of the largest clots from the vein. Clot busting drugs can dissolve the clot.

DVTs can be an individual thing or something that occurs over and over again. Doctors recommend TEDS stockings to keep the blood flowing through the veins at all times.

As mentioned, the major complication of a DVT is a pulmonary embolism (PE). A PE is also called a pulmonary embolus. The clots can go anywhere but when they go to your lungs, you can't oxygenate your blood and, if severe, you can easily die. Other complications include post-phlebitic syndrome, which causes chronic oedema and redness to the leg that lasts for a long time.

You can prevent DVTs from occurring by wearing pressure stockings in your legs to keep the blood flowing. High risk patients are given blood thinners when necessary and you should move your legs around a lot during long trips or lying down during an illness or post-surgery. Smoking increases the risk of DVT, you should not smoke, especially if you are a woman on birth control pills.

Having a secondary pulmonary embolism is a serious thing. It represents a sudden blockage of one or more arteries of the lung. Large blood clots can block the opening to both lungs and you will instantly die. Small clots will make you short of breath and have chest pain but they do not usually kill you.

Symptoms of a PE include having sudden shortness of breath associated with chest pain that worsens with deep breathing and a cough that produces a pink, foamy fluid. Secondary symptoms include anxiety, light headedness or palpitations. See a doctor right away if you have these symptoms and if they come on suddenly.

Blood clots to the legs are the most common cause of a PE. About 300,000 Americans will have either of these diseases. A PE can also be caused by a tumor, amniotic fluid bubble, air bubbles or fat bubbles that are let loose from a broken bone. These are far less common causes of a PE.

Your risk of a PE goes up if you are born with blood that is naturally too thick or if you are inactive, such as being sick for a long time or having had recent surgery. If you have stroke, cancer, severe infection or heart failure, pregnancy, childbirth, taking birth control and/or smoking, you are at a much greater risk of developing a PE. Basically, anything that can cause a DVT can also cause a pulmonary embolism.

Doctors can rarely diagnose a pulmonary embolism on examination alone. If the oxygen level is low and you have all the symptoms, a PE can be suspected. To prove a PE has occurred, the doctor can do a D-dimer test or a CT scan of the chest with contrast. A VQ scan used to be the gold standard but has fallen out of practice. A regular X-ray can show if you have pneumonia, cancer or other lung disease but will not show a PE. An MRI scan will also show if you have a PE.

A pulmonary embolism can be a medical emergency. If it is life-threatening, the doctor will use a clot busting drug or thrombotic like TPA to quickly dissolve clots. Otherwise medications similar to a DVT are used. Heparin is used to keep the blood clot from growing and allow it to dissolve on its own. Coumadin or warfarin are used orally and continued after the heparin is stopped so you can go home and continue to heal.

People who have recurrent pulmonary emboli may need to be on blood thinners like Coumadin for the rest of their life. They may also need to have a filter placed in the vena cava to prevent blood clots from going up to the lungs. You are more likely to have a PE if you have had a PE before. Blood thinners can make a difference but will increase the risk of your having bleeding complications.