PE And Pregnancy: Unexpected Risks During And After
Expectant mothers learn a lot about what their bodies are going through during pregnancy and the post-partum period, but one issue that does not get the attention it deserves is pulmonary embolism (PE). According to the American Thoracic Society, PE is a top cause of death to mothers in developed countries. The US has a surprisingly high maternal mortality rate, at around 25 fatalities for every 100,000 births. Of these women, 20 percent die because of PE.
Fortunately, there are strategies for addressing PE during pregnancy, as well as after the mother gives birth. With proper diagnosis and assessment of risk factors, this medical condition is preventable. If you have concerns about how health care providers addressed PE, you should consult with a Tampa medical malpractice lawyer about legal remedies. It is also useful to review some background.
PE and Pregnancy: The origin of PE is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a medical condition in which a blood clot develops in the legs, pelvis, or arms. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, the clot can break apart. Pieces may travel to the lungs and cause a blockage that can be fatal.
Pregnant women are at a higher risk of blood clots because of the changes to the woman’s body, primarily the consistency of the blood. It clots more easily to prevent blood loss during delivery. Plus, blood flow to the legs decreases as the baby grows. These effects can last up to 3 months or more after delivery.
Diagnosis and Treatment: The most common symptoms of PE are shortness of breath, discomfort in the chest, and swelling in the legs. Of course, these are also side effects of pregnancy. Therefore, to diagnose PE, physicians will carefully review patient history and general physical health. These findings will often identify the risk factors mentioned below. When a blood clot is suspected, doctors will move on to more intense tests, such as:
- CT scans;
- Blood tests; and,
- Other screenings.
The most common treatment for PE during pregnancy is heparin, and many women who are at risk will also receive this treatment upon leaving the hospital after giving birth.
PE Risk Factors: Pregnancy alone increases the likelihood of developing a blood clot, and expectant mothers are 5 times more likely to experience PE than non-pregnant women. Additional risk factors that you should discuss with your physician, or which could be uncovered through diagnostic testing, include:
- Patient history of blood clots;
- Family history of PE or DVT;
- Prior diagnosis of DVT;
- Weight issues, particularly among women with a BMI of 30 or higher;
- A diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS);
- Pregnancies involving multiple births; and,
- Prior C-section.
A Hillsborough County Pulmonary Embolism Attorney Can Explain Remedies
PE is preventable, so it is surprising to learn about the impacts on pregnant women and new mothers. For more information about legal options in a medical malpractice case based upon PE, please contact Greco & Wozniak P.A. call 813.223.7849 or visit our website to schedule a consultation at our offices in Tampa, FL. After learning more about your circumstances, a Florida pulmonary embolism lawyer can explain next steps.