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Hudgell Solicitors™ | Latest News | Blood Clots and DVT: How it happens and what hospitals should do to prevent it

Blood Clots and DVT: How it happens and what hospitals should do to prevent it



What are blood clots?

Blood clots occur for a variety of reasons and need to be treated quickly. They vary in seriousness from minor discomfort through to complications which can result in death.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition where a blood clot commonly arises in the leg or pelvic area. Around 1 in 1000 people are affected by DVT each year, which can prove fatal if it is not treated urgently.

A Pulmonary Embolism, where a blood clot occurs in the blood vessel responsible for moving blood from the heart to your lungs, can also be fatal if untreated.

If you suffered because of a blood clot which was missed, wrongly diagnosed or not treated properly; you may be entitled to claim compensation.

How do they happen?

The majority of blood clots occur following hospitalisation or surgery (almost 66%) and they are completely preventable.

If you are under the care of a hospitals or health professional, they have a duty of care to prevent blood clots and DVT from occurring.

To minimise the number of medical negligence blood clots, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has written procedures for patients to be monitored and checked regularly, especially with 24 hours of admission.

Can they be prevented?

Patients should expect to receive a reasonable standard of treatment from medical professionals, who MUST take measures to prevent patients from suffering a blood clot or DVT when in their care.

Some treatments do increase the risk of developing DVT and a failure to implement certain preventions can be classed as an act of medical negligence.

NICE recognises that DVTs must be identified as early as possible so they can be treated before symptoms become serious.

As part of the NICE policy, health professionals must:

  • Assume EVERY patient is at increased risk of DVT after surgery
  • Consider age, weight and other risk factors
  • Issue blood thinners – anticoagulants or antiplatelets – before and after surgery
  • Advise you to get up and walk around as soon as possible after surgery
  • Use mechanical pump on legs after operations, if needed
  • Issue compression stockings and sleeves for patients to wear
  • Carry out regular testing levels for DVTs

If these NICE procedures are not followed and a DVT occurs, you may be able to bring a blood clot claim against the hospital staff for medical negligence.

What are the symptoms?

For some blood clots or cases of DVT there may be very few symptoms, if any.

When symptoms do show they include:

  • Pain and swelling in the leg or calf
  • Skin feels warmer where clot has formed
  • Skin becoming red below back of knee
  • Aching in the affected area
  • Fever

Always seek urgent medical advice if you show any of the above signs.

How can a blood clot be diagnosed?

To prevent a blood clot becoming more serious, you need a fast and accurate diagnosis.

If you suffer any of the symptoms detailed above, a doctor should recommend:

  • D-dimer test – identifies loose pieces of blood clot in bloodstream
  • Ultrasound or venogram scan – accurately identifies a clot
  • Heparin – medication can immediately stop blood clots
  • Warfarin – Prevent more clots from developing afterwards

Who is most at risk?

Blood clots are associated with a wide range of conditions.

Prolonged periods of inactivity, such as long-haul flights or recovering in hospital after surgery, are both common causes of blood clots.

The heightened chance of DVT occurring after surgery means medical professionals must carefully assess and consider your individual risk factors.

Other possible factors include:

  • History of previous DVT
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Contraceptives
  • Elderly
  • Family history
  • Kidney problems
  • Some cancers

What’s the impact on daily life?

If you suffer from a severe DVT, it can affect every aspect of your life – including:

  • Walking is often difficult or painful
  • Climbing stairs is incredibly hard
  • Higher risk of amputation – if get another clot
  • Medication required indefinitely
  • Compulsory need to wear tight stockings

Are blood clots and DVT just bad luck?

Falling victim to a blood clot or DVT may seem like bad luck, but it’s not always the case.

If a clot forms following surgery, when undergoing the right treatment could have prevented it, your condition may have been caused by medical negligence.

Lack of treatment to avoid clotting, poor mobility support for immobile patients and inadequate risk assessments are all common examples of negligence associated with blood clots.

Should you be affected in this way, an experienced solicitor can help you build a strong case for blood clot compensation.

Can you claim compensation for a blood clot or DVT?

Yes. To successfully claim blood clot compensation, you must prove that a medical professional acted negligently or in a sub-standard way in relation to your care. You must also prove how you suffered as a direct result of this below-par treatment.

The amount of compensation you can receive depends on the severity of your condition and its impact on your daily life.

At Hudgell Solicitors, our experienced medical negligence team can weigh up all the different factors and help to assess the strength of your case before making a claim.

Are there any time limits to making a claim?

In most cases, you have three years from the date of your blood clot being diagnosed to make a blood clot claim. However, we would advise speaking to a lawyer as soon as possible as this makes it easier to gather evidence so that justice can be served.

Can I get free legal advice?

At Hudgell Solicitors, we fund all blood clot claims on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis – so you can gain access to justice without putting your finances at risk.

If you’ve been affected by a blood clot or DVT, get in touch and one of our specialist solicitors will carefully consider the strength of your evidence.

Your initial consultation is free and you don’t have to pursue a case afterwards.

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The Author

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Jodi Newton

Senior Solicitor, Clinical Negligence

jxn@hudgellsolicitors.co.uk

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