My husband suffered a pulmonary embolism and died while he was in hospital and I would like to know if I will be entitled to claim pulmonary embolism misdiagnosis compensation because his condition was not diagnosed in time to save him.

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

The success of a claim for pulmonary embolism misdiagnosis is going to depend on whether the symptoms of a pulmonary embolism could have been diagnosed in time by a medical practitioner to save your husband´s life – irrespective of whether or not he was in hospital at the time he suffered the embolism.

A pulmonary embolism is usually caused by a blood clot which has travelled from the legs into the lungs, causing a blockage which prevents the blood from becoming oxygenated. The blockage results in oxygen starvation to other parts of the body such as the brain and the heart but can be treated if medication can be administered in time to break down the blood clot – provided that there is a timely diagnosis of the problem. In some cases, a pulmonary embolism – and its consequences – can occur quickly and, even with doctors on hand, nothing may have been possible to save your husband´s life. If this was the case, it will not be possible to claim compensation for the misdiagnosis of a pulmonary embolism.

However, if your husband had communicated the symptoms of a pulmonary embolism to his carers in the hospital in time for action to be taken, then a claim for pulmonary embolism misdiagnosis compensation should be possible; as a failure to diagnose pulmonary embolism could be considered to be medical negligence. Any patient complaining about shortness of breath and chest pain, swelling in the legs, clammy skin and light-headedness should indicate to a doctor that there is a potential pulmonary embolism. As your husband was in hospital at the time, had he been able to communicate the symptoms of a pulmonary embolism, he was in the best place to receive treatment had a correct diagnosis been made.

If your husband had recently undergone surgery, a medical practitioner examining your husband should have been particularly attentive to the risk of a pulmonary embolism, but until a review of his medical history is undertaken it is not possible to tell you whether you will be entitled to claim pulmonary embolism misdiagnosis compensation. It would therefore be in your best interests to discuss the circumstances of your husband´s death with an experienced medical negligence solicitor in order that a review of your husband´s medical history can be started straight away to establish your entitlement to pulmonary embolism misdiagnosis compensation.