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Pulmonary embolism is a common and potentially life threatening condition. A pulmonary embolism is a blockage of the main artery in the lung or one of its branches. It most often occurs from blood clots starting in the deep veins of your legs, but can also start from other places in your body. It can also be caused by air or fat embolism. Approximately 600,000 Americans sustain pulmonary embolism each year; one-third of these episodes are fatal. (PIOPED II). Daniel R Ouellette, MD, FCCP reported that “Autopsy studies have shown that approximately 60% of patients who have died in the hospital had pulmonary embolism, with the diagnosis having been missed in up to 70% of the cases.”

Risk factors for a pulmonary embolism include:

· Prolonged immobility, such as travel of 4 hours , prolonged bed rest

· Surgery and Trauma

· Cancer

· Current or past history of thrombophlebitis

· Obesity

· Smoking

· Pregnancy

· Prior pulmonary embolism

· Birth control pills, estrogen replacement

· Genetic predisposition

Medical malpractice actions commonly result from a failure to diagnose or properly treat pulmonary embolism.

Some of the common symptoms of pulmonary embolism can include:

• Difficulty breathing-shortness of breath

• Pain on taking a deep breath;

• Cough

• Coughing up blood (hemoptysis)

• Rapid breathing (tachypnea)

• Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)

• Bluish coloration of the skin or lips (cyanosis)

• Leg swelling

• Excessive sweating

In all cases, pulmonary embolism needs prompt diagnosis and treatment.

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