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Shortness of breath isn’t always asthma

Your elderly parent has been complaining of having a hard time breathing lately. They’ve had asthma all their life, so you initially thought that they needed to take their medications more regularly and that they’d be fine after doing so.

A few days after starting back on their standard medications, they told you they still didn’t feel well. So, you took them to the doctor. The doctor agreed that it was probably asthma and just gave them new medications to try.

A few days after that, you found your parent passed out. At the hospital, it was determined that they had a pulmonary embolism. In your mind, this should have been identified much sooner, but is it really medical malpractice if your parent’s doctor didn’t recognize it?

What establishes malpractice?

Medical malpractice happens when a reasonable standard of care isn’t met. For someone who is struggling with breathing, it’s typical for a few tests to be run. These might include:

  • A D-dimer test, which measures a substance found in the blood when a blood clot breaks
  • Chest X-rays
  • An electrocardiogram to record the activity of the heart
  • Doppler ultrasounds to look for blood clots in the legs

These and many other kinds of tests can be used to detect or identify the potential for blood clots in the lungs or elsewhere in the body.

If a medical provider jumps to conclusions, such as assuming a patient has an exacerbation of asthma without ruling out blood clots or heart problems, then they are doing their patient a disservice.

When can you file a medical malpractice lawsuit?

If your loved one is injured or dies because a physician does not order the correct tests or fails to rule out more serious issues, then it may be possible for you to pursue a medical malpractice claim against them.

You’ll need to show that they failed to provide the same level of care as someone else would have in the same position with the same background. Doing this could help you get compensation to help your loved or cover any financial losses that have occurred due to their passing.