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Failure to Diagnose Pulmonary Embolism

Syracuse Attorneys for Victims of Medical Negligence

Pulmonary embolism occurs if there’s a blockage in a pulmonary artery. It’s often caused by traveling blood clots. Prompt treatment of a pulmonary embolism matters. A doctor’s failure to diagnose a pulmonary embolism can result in serious injuries or even death. If you were harmed by a doctor’s failure to diagnose pulmonary embolism, you may be able to recover damages in a lawsuit. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, our seasoned Syracuse medical malpractice lawyers may be able to represent you in your claims.

What is a Pulmonary Embolism?

A pulmonary embolism may occur if a blood clot travels from your limbs or abdomen to your lungs, stopping the blood flow in an artery. Sometimes multiple clots cause pulmonary embolism. There are certain risk factors for pulmonary embolism including trauma, medication, or staying in a seated position for a prolonged period. While blood clots are often the cause of blockage, it can also be caused by other things, such as a tumor or air bubbles. Symptoms of pulmonary embolism can include fever, clammy skin, excessive sweating, leg pain, chest pain, dizziness, a persistent cough, and shortness of breath. These are symptoms that a doctor will consider when trying to reach a diagnosis. The doctor will also consider patient history and risk factors.

Failure to Diagnose Pulmonary Embolism

Doctors may miss signs of a pulmonary embolism or fail to diagnose it for another reason. The result can be serious harm. Timely diagnosis is critical to treating a pulmonary embolism.

Differential diagnosis may be used to reach a diagnosis for a patient. In a differential diagnosis, the doctor sets forth all potential diagnoses in relation to a set of symptoms and the patient’s history, and systematically eliminates the incorrect ones through testing and other means. In this context, failure to diagnose can be a result of the following: a failure to include pulmonary embolism as a potential diagnosis, ruling it out for improper reasons, or a failure to test for it even though it was listed as a potential diagnosis.

To establish a doctor’s medical malpractice, you must prove: (1) there was a doctor-patient relationship that required your healthcare provider to abide by a professional duty of care, (2) deviation from the professional duty of care, (3) actual and proximate causation, and (4) damages. The professional duty of care is governed by the locality rule; it is determined by what competent professionals in the same geographic region and specialty would do. For example, if a doctor fails to perform an angiogram to diagnose a pulmonary embolism, this may constitute a failure to abide by the professional standard of care if other competent practitioners in the same geographic area and specialty would have done so under similar circumstances. A knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer can evaluate the facts of your case to assess whether you may be able to meet these elements.

Before filing suit, you must also retain an expert to certify what the professional standard of care was, whether and how your provider deviated from it, and that a causal link existed between the breach of duty and your harm. New York Civil Practice Law and Rules section 3012-a requires you to file the expert’s certificate of merit with your initial complaint.


Damages arising out of a failure to diagnose pulmonary embolism can vary depending on the particular harm caused. Damages resulting from a failure to diagnose pulmonary embolism can be both economic and noneconomic. Economic losses that can be addressed include medical bills, lost wages, replacement services, and more. Noneconomic losses that may be addressed include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment, and loss of consortium.

If a loved one dies due to a doctor’s failure to diagnose pulmonary embolism, you might be able to recover economic losses for the death through a wrongful death lawsuit. These losses can include medical bills, lost income, and funeral and burial expenses.

Retain a Seasoned Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Syracuse

If you were harmed by a failure to diagnose pulmonary embolism in Syracuse, it’s important to talk to a skilled medical malpractice attorney. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represents patients in Rochester, Syracuse and everywhere in Upstate New York, including in Watertown, Herkimer, Oswego, Canandaigua, Lowville, Binghamton, Cooperstown, Oneida, Utica, Ithaca, Wampsville, Auburn, Lyons, and Elmira. Contact DeFrancisco & Falgiatano at 833-200-2000 or through our online form.

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