Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) happens when you develop a blood clot in a deep vein. The veins susceptible to DVT sit far from the heart, where the pressure drops and circulation can slow.
DVT can develop from medical malpractice or negligence in assisting immobile patients. It can also develop as a secondary injury after you get hurt in an accident. In either case, DVT can threaten your health and life if not treated.
Learn how DVT develops and the situations in which you can seek injury compensation for it.
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What Does the Circulatory System Do?
Every cell in your body needs oxygen for cell metabolism. Without oxygen, cells begin to die. Different cells die at different rates. A brain cell can only survive a few minutes without oxygen. Muscle cells can last for up to eight hours without blood flow.
Your circulatory system delivers oxygen and nutrients to your body. The heart pumps blood to your lungs through the pulmonary arteries. In the lungs, the blood gives up waste products like carbon dioxide and picks up oxygen.
The blood returns to the heart through the pulmonary vein. The heart pumps the blood through the aorta to all of the body’s major arteries. Gravity tends to help the heart pump blood to the hands and feet, which usually sit below its position in the chest.
When pumping blood to the body, the heart only fights against gravity when pumping blood to the head. But the proximity of the head to the heart minimizes the pressure losses through the carotid arteries in the neck.
Capillaries connect the arteries to the muscles and organs. These small blood vessels branch out to feed all of the cells in your body.
How Do Blood Clots Form?
The return system has the same structure, but the oxygen-deprived blood flows in the opposite direction from your muscles and organs to your heart. Venous blood flows from the capillaries to the veins. The veins carry the blood back to the heart and lungs, where it can get oxygenated again and continue the cycle.
When flowing back to your heart, your blood must fight gravity as it returns from your legs and arms. These “deep veins” need valves inside them to prevent blood from flowing backward under the influence of gravity. Also, on the return trip, the blood has lost some of the pressure imparted to it by the heart. Both gravity and low pressure contribute to the risk of clotting in these veins.
Clotting happens when blood cells stick together. This feature can slow or stop bleeding and save your life if you suffer a wound.
But clots can also clog blood vessels, leading to serious medical conditions, including:
- Heart attack
- Pulmonary embolism
All three of these conditions can kill you if you do not receive emergency medical treatment.
How Does Deep Vein Thrombosis Occur?
DVT happens when a blood clot forms in a deep vein in your arms or legs. Several factors usually come together for this to happen, including:
Lack of Movement
Movement can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. When you do not move, your blood can pool. DVT often happens when you sit or lie down for an extended period. The lack of movement combined with pressure on your thighs or hips can slow your circulation and create a high risk of DVT.
Recent Injury or Surgery
When you get injured, your body releases coagulation factors into your blood. These chemicals help your blood clot so that you do not bleed to death. The body cannot control where blood clots. Instead, coagulation factors get released system-wide.
When you have a recent injury or surgery, your blood contains elevated levels of coagulation factors. Your blood can form clots in your deep veins, particularly near the valves where the blood can accumulate.
Inflammation causes your tissues to swell. When they swell, they squeeze your blood vessels. This can increase the risk of blood clots.
Also, inflammation triggers changes in the chemistry of your blood to help it trap microorganisms and hold blood near an injury to heal it. These changes increase the odds of clotting.
What Are Some Complications from Deep Vein Thrombosis?
DVT can cause deadly complications, including:
A pulmonary embolism happens when a blood clot travels through your veins to your lungs. There, the clot blocks some of the unoxygenated blood flowing into the lungs.
A pulmonary embolism will cause symptoms that include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Low blood pressure
If you do not receive emergency treatment, a pulmonary embolism can kill you.
Blood clots can damage the valves in your veins. These valves prevent your blood from flowing backward under the influence of gravity. Clots can stretch or tear the valves.
When Can You Get Compensation for Deep Vein Thrombosis?
In many cases, DVT occurs naturally. Some people have a genetic risk for developing blood clots. Combined with the right environmental conditions, such as a long car ride, these people can develop DVT.
DVT can result directly or indirectly from an accident. If you can trace the cause of your DVT to negligence, you can pursue compensation for your DVT.
Some situations where someone else might bear liability for your DVT include:
Medical malpractice can lead to DVT. If a doctor or pharmacist mistakenly gives you blood clotting medication, you can develop DVT. Similarly, if a doctor fails to prescribe compression sleeves or stockings during extended bed rest, you have an increased risk of DVT.
Caretakers in your home, hospitals, and residential care facilities must rotate non-mobile patients. When they fail to do so, the patient has an increased risk of both bed sores and DVT.
If you suffer an injury in a preventable accident, you can develop DVT during your recovery. You can seek compensation for all complications caused by injuries sustained in an accident. The complications do not need to be foreseeable.
But they do need to result from the accident. For example, if you suffered a broken hip in a slip and fall accident and later developed DVT, you need to prove your DVT was caused by the accident and not a superseding cause like medical malpractice.
Contact a Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Deep Vein Thrombosis Case
To discuss whether your case of deep vein thrombosis entitles you to personal injury compensation, contact William G. Kolodner Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation.