Prevention of Pulmonary Embolism

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Pulmonary embolism can be prevented by assessing a patient’s risk for developing DVT. Since major surgery is a risk factor, patients already at high risk for DVT undergo preventative measures (e.g., anticoagulants) before the surgery (Tidy & Hartree, 2014). For patients with moderate to low risk of blood clotting who cannot use anticoagulants or have a high risk of bleeding, doctors may order compression devices to be worn on the legs during and after surgery (Thompson, 2016b). There are multiple different compression devices that may be used to help prevent DVT, which in turn helps prevent pulmonary embolism. For instance, intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) devices generate a cycle of compressed air pumped through an inflatable sleeve or boot.  The IPC devices act like a pump to compress the leg and/or foot and enhance blood flow (Aetna, 2015).   Similarly, sequential compression devices (SCD) use sleeves and compressed air to compress the legs; however, they are segmented into sections that each inflate in a sequence (Curtis, 2013). Another device used to prevent DVT is graduated compression stockings (GCS), which work by applying pressure to a patient’s ankles and legs.  The graduated pressure is designed to prevent blood pooling in the legs and clotting (Morrison, Bussey, & Walker, 2007).

The risk factors for pulmonary embolism are too well-known for doctors and hospitals to fail to take standard precautions for their patients.  Algorithms and protocols are already in use in hospitals throughout the nation in order to recognize those at risk of pulmonary embolism and assure proper treatment to minimize the risk as much as possible.

We encourage you to learn about pulmonary embolism so you can do your part to assure your doctors are well informed and better able to prevent, identify or rapidly treat pulmonary embolism.  When under the care of a health care provider, always provide a COMPLETE medical and surgical history so your doctors understand your level of risk for pulmonary embolism, especially before undergoing major surgery.  Do not conveniently hide important facts such as your history of smoking or using certain medications just to avoid a lecture or because you want these facts to remain personal.  And, understand the risk factors and symptoms of pulmonary embolism.  If you do experience one or more symptoms and recognize your risk factors for pulmonary embolism, you will be more likely to recognize when you are suffering from pulmonary embolism, go immediately to an emergency department, and clearly express your concern to the treating physician.   Such a response will surely increase the chances of the best possible outcome.

The medical malpractice attorneys and nurses of Lupetin and Unatin will listen to you and ask the questions which need to be asked to determine whether a loved one was the victim of medical malpractice related to improper prevention, diagnosis, management, or treatment of pulmonary embolism.  We have the experience and training to analyze the medical care described in the medical records and identify potential departures from the standards of medical care such as:

  1. Failure to diagnose the signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism
  2. Failure to recognize and properly treat patients with pulmonary embolism who become hemodynamically unstable; and,
  3. Administering anticoagulation without assessing a patient for conditions or factors which carry an unacceptable risk for bleeding

If you lost somebody or suffered serious health problems as a result of pulmonary embolism which you believe was poorly managed, or even preventable, consider contacting our office.  We will work hard to determine whether your loss could have been avoided with proper measures to prevent, or properly diagnosis and treat, this too often fatal condition.


Aetna. (2015, October 23). Intermittent pneumatic compression devices.

CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015, June 22). Venous thromboembolism (blood clots): Data & statistics.

Chen, Y. (2015, December 4). Pulmonary embolus.

Curtis, C. (2013, July 24). Protect yourself from deep vein thrombosis with sequential compression device (SCD).

Morrison, R., Bussey, H. I., & Walker, M. B. (2007). What are graduated compression stockings, where do I get them, and how do I put them on?

Thompson, B. T. (2016a, February 5). Overview of acute pulmonary embolism in adults.

Thompson, B. T. (2016b, April 5). Patient information: Pulmonary embolism (beyond the basics).

Thompson, B. T. (2016c, April 11). Clinical presentation, evaluation, and diagnosis of the adult with suspected acute pulmonary embolism.

Tidy, C., & Hartree, N. (2014, September 22). Pulmonary embolism.

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