Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot formed in one of the deep veins, often in the leg, where a larger vein runs through the muscles of the calf to the thigh. It can also develop in a thigh, and more rarely, in an arm or pelvis. Each year one person in every 1,000 is affected by DVT. 25,000 people in the UK die from venous thromboembolism. This figure includes both patients admitted for medical care of serious illnesses, as well as those admitted for surgery.
The sudden killer is a pulmonary embolism (PE). This is a blood clot which forms in the lower limb or pelvic veins and then comes loose and is carried in the bloodstream before blocking one of the blood vessels in the lungs. DVT is in itself a cause of substantial morbidity and may lead to the development of post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) with chronic swelling and ulceration of the legs.
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a collective term for both deep vein thrombosis’ (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE).
A timely diagnosis is essential because a DVT requires urgent treatment.
Reasons for a missed DVT or delayed diagnosis
There are many reasons why this may occur.
Patient not correctly assessed for risk of developing a DVT
Those at risk include:
- hospital patients who have recently undergone surgery with poor circulation
- those affected by illness or history of blood clots/venous thromboembolism
- inactivity due to a long flight or recovery period in bed at home following an illness or operation
- pregnant women
- people aged over 40
- current or past cancer
- taking a contraceptive pill that contains oestrogen, or taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- co-morbidities with heart, lungs, bowel or joints
Patient not correctly investigated for presence of DVT
Tests may include:
- D-dimer. This is a special blood test that measures a substance that develops when a blood clot breaks down.
- Ultrasound Doppler. This looks at the blood flow through the blood vessels.
- Venography. This is a special x-ray using a special substance that is injected into the vein and will show the blood flow through the affected vessel on x-rays. This will only be done if the D-dimer test and ultrasound Doppler indicates normal results but there is still a suspicion that a DVT exists.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This imaging test is effective at finding DVT in the pelvis, as well as in the thigh.
Patients not made aware of their risk of developing a DVT or the symptoms to look out for
The symptoms of a DVT include:
- swelling in one or both legs
- pain and tenderness which may occur only while standing or walking
- warm skin that looks red of the affected leg
- A mild fever
- heavy ache in the leg
Failure to follow the relevant guidelines
A missed or delayed diagnosis causes:
- Pulmonary embolism (if a blood clot breaks free and travels to the lungs)
- Post-thrombotic syndrome
If you or a loved one has suffered a DVT, or a loved one has died after developing a DVT, and you believe that the warning signs were present but were missed, leading to a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, which lead to the missed opportunity of preventing complications and manifestations that you have suffered or timeous treatment, there may be a claim for compensation for those subsequent injuries.
If you would like to discuss making a claim for compensation as a result of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or Delayed Diagnosis or a failure to provide the recommended standard of care, please call our Clinical and Medical Negligence Lawyers on Freephone 0808 164 0808 for a FREE, n0-obligation chat, or complete the request a call back form and we will call you.