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Deep Vein Thrombosis and Medical Negligence Claims

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Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) patient and doctor

Certain complex surgeries and hospital stays can lead to an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis. Whilst healthcare professionals usually follow strict protocols and procedures to minimise the risks, mistakes can still sometimes occur with significant consequences for the patient. Here we answer some of the key questions relating to this topic.

What is deep vein thrombosis?

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a medical condition where a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the legs. It can cause pain, swelling, and redness in the affected area. If the clot breaks loose, it can travel to the lungs, causing a potentially life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism. Risk factors include prolonged inactivity, surgery, certain medical conditions, and genetic predispositions. Treatment often involves anticoagulant medications to prevent clot growth and reduce the risk of further complications.

In what circumstances can DVT occur in hospital settings?

It can occur due to prolonged immobility, such as after surgery, during long-term bed rest, or because of severe illness. The risk is heightened in patients with certain medical conditions, those undergoing orthopaedic surgeries (like hip or knee replacement), and individuals with a history of blood clots. Hospitals usually implement preventive measures, including medication, compression stockings, and physical therapy, to minimise the risk of DVT in high-risk patients.

Can negligence in hospitals cause DVT?

Yes, negligence by hospital staff can potentially contribute to the development of DVT. Failure to properly assess a patient’s risk for blood clots, not implementing preventive measures (like prescribing anticoagulants or ensuring patient mobility), or inadequately monitoring and managing patients post-surgery or during long-term bed rest; these are all factors that can cause DVT to develop.  Such oversights can lead to serious complications and on-going health issues, highlighting the importance of adhering to preventive guidelines and protocols for at-risk patients.

What are the more serious consequences of negligence?

Serious consequences include a pulmonary embolism (PE); a serious medical condition that occurs when a blood clot, originating from a deep vein thrombosis in the legs or pelvis, travels through the bloodstream and lodges in the lungs. This blockage can restrict blood flow to the lungs, causing symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing (possibly with blood), and rapid heart rate. PE can lead to lung damage, low oxygen levels in the blood, and even death if not promptly diagnosed and treated.

What ongoing health issues are associated with a pulmonary embolism?

Patients may suffer from post-PE syndrome, characterised by persistent respiratory symptoms and reduced exercise tolerance, impacting quality of life. Long-term management may involve anticoagulant therapy, lifestyle modifications, and in severe cases, surgical intervention to improve symptoms and prevent recurrence. Severe and avoidable consequences such as this, due to developing DVT in a healthcare setting, is a strong basis to bring a medical negligence claim against the hospital or healthcare provider responsible for the care of the patient.

I developed DVT in hospital. How can I prove it was caused by negligence?

There are many factors that can lead to the development of DVT, so for a medical negligence claim to be successful, you will need to demonstrate the following:  

  • A Duty of Care – You will need to establish that the healthcare provider had a duty to provide you with a standard level of care, which is generally accepted as the care a competent health professional would provide in similar circumstances.
  • A Breach of Duty – You will need to show that the healthcare provider failed to meet this standard of care. Examples include not adequately assessing your risk factors for DVT, failing to implement appropriate preventative measures (like prescribing anticoagulants or advising on mobility exercises), or not properly diagnosing and treating DVT symptoms promptly.
  • Causation – You will need to link the breach of duty directly to your development of DVT. This means providing evidence that the negligence was a significant factor in causing your condition, not merely an incidental or remote cause.
  • Damages – You will need to document the harm you suffered due to the DVT, which may include physical harm, medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.

Collecting detailed medical records, expert testimony from medical professionals, and evidence of the standard care protocols for DVT risk management are crucial steps in proving negligence. A qualified solicitor, with extensive experience in bringing medical negligence claims, can help you with vital evidence gathering and preparing your claim.

Considering bringing a negligence claim?

If you’ve developed deep vein thrombosis in a healthcare setting, and you believe negligent medical care is the cause of your injury, you may have the grounds to bring a compensation claim. Speak to a solicitor in the medical negligence team at McCarthy + Co today by calling us on 1800 390 555. An experienced member of staff will discuss your situation and potential next steps. You can also email info@mccarthy.ie and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is a seasoned solicitor with almost 20 years of experience, specialises in personal injury and medical negligence claims, focusing particularly on high-value compensation cases. His extensive litigation experience spans Circuit Court, High Court and Supreme Court levels. John's practice involves a diverse range of cases, from personal injury and wrongful death to property damage, defective products, professional negligence and judicial reviews.

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