Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a common medical condition that accounts for many medical negligence claims. The American College of Physicians routinely publishes guidelines to assist physicians in treating and, better yet, preventing pulmonary embolism. PEs can be effectively prevented when patients who are at risk for the condition are “prophylaxed,” or treated before developing a PE. The most recent set of guidelines are not particularly noteworthy, with one exception. The new guidelines are published in the Annals of Internal Medicine here: www.annals.org.
The first two recommendations in the new guidelines reflect longstanding principles of medicine: (1) physicians should assess patients for risk factors for PE; and (2) if a patient is at increased risk, the patient should be considered for preventative treatment. The third recommendation is new: studies show that compression stockings are not very effective in preventing PEs, so preventive treatment should be limited to early ambulation and “blood thinners” (anticoagulation like heparin). This is good news for patients because compression stockings are quite uncomfortable.
Pulmonary embolism is preventable when proper precautionary measures are taken. Unfortunately, many physicians are not up-to-date on the guidelines, thereby putting their patients at unnecessary risk. There also tends to be a bias against using blood thinners among surgeons, which leads them to overestimate the risk of bleeding during or immediately after surgery. However, these new guidelines make it clear that compression stockings are not a good substitute for blood thinners in surgical patients. If you have questions about how these new guidelines or older guidelines apply to Ohio hospitals and doctors, the lawyers at Mishkind Kulwicki Law are here to help.