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Pulmonary embolism or ‘PE’ is a life-threatening condition which requires urgent treatment to prevent significant harm or death. PE occurs when a blood clot or other type of embolus blocks an artery in the lung, reducing its blood flow and oxygen supply. If PE is diagnosed and treated early, the patient should make a full recovery. Delay or failure to recognise or suspect that a patient has PE and provide urgent treatment can result in damage to their heart or lungs, or cause their death

In 2019, the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) identified delays in treatment for PE in nearly 40% of patients, and delays in starting anticoagulation medication in nearly 20% of the cases that it reviewed.

In 2021,  MBRRACE-UK’s report on maternal deaths from 2017 to 2019 found that 31 women died from pulmonary embolism, with blood clots being the fourth most common cause of death of women during or soon after pregnancy. MBRRACE-UK’s assessors found that risk assessment for blood clots often failed to follow national guidance. Nearly two thirds of the women who died from blood clots might have had a different outcome with better care.

In 2022, HSIB reported that patients’ safety was being put at risk by emergency department (A&E) errors causing delays in diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary embolism. 

If a patient suffers serious or fatal injury as a result of negligent failure to prevent, diagnose or treat pulmonary embolism, they or their bereaved family may be entitled to compensation.

Previous Cases

Apology and settlement for the husband of a 70-year-old woman who died from an untreated pulmonary embolism. At the inquest into the woman’s death, the coroner found that hospital staff had failed to realise the significance of her abnormally high D-dimer test result (an indication of blood clot). The woman’s death would have been avoided if she had been treated correctly with anticoagulants. 

Compensation settlement for a client with a known heart condition who suffered a PE, breathlessness and psychological injury after delayed diagnosis and treatment of infective endocarditis. 

What mistakes lead to pulmonary embolism medical negligence claims?

Pulmonary embolism (PE) claims may follow injury caused by negligent treatment by:

Our personal injury team help clients needing compensation after workplace, road or other accidents caused major trauma or fractures leading to pulmonary embolism. 

Medical negligence pulmonary embolism injury claims often involve negligent mistakes, including:

  • failing to carry out a proper assessment of the patient’s risk of PE or blood clots, such as DVT;
  • failing to take steps to reduce the patient’s risk of pulmonary embolism, or blood clots, such as DVT;
  • delay or failure to refer the patient to hospital;
  • failing to take or consider the patient’s medical history;
  • failing to carry out a full examination;
  • failing to suspect or recognise symptoms of PE;
  • failing to give anticoagulant medication or take other steps to reduce the risks to a patient with suspected PE;
  • failing to order correct tests;
  • delay in carrying out or reporting scans and other tests;
  • misinterpreting test results;
  • delay in diagnosis of PE;
  • delay in diagnosis of DVT;
  • delay, failure or incorrect treatment of DVT;
  • delay, failure or incorrect treatment of PE;
  • medication errors;
  • surgical and post-operative errors;
  • failing to follow national guidance;
  • failing to provide post-discharge advice, warnings or treatment to prevent further blood clots, DVT or PE;
  • failing to obtain informed consent for invasive procedures.
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What injuries can lead to pulmonary embolism (PE) medical negligence claims?

Medical negligence claims for compensation for injuries caused by mistakes in the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of pulmonary embolism often arise from the patient suffering:

  • heart failure;
  • abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia);
  • lung damage (pulmonary infarction);
  • death.  
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What compensation can I claim after pulmonary embolism medical negligence?

The level of compensation in any medical negligence claim depends on the circumstances of the case, such as the injury, its severity and the impact that any resulting disability will have on the injured person’s life. Other factors, such as the patient’s expected lifespan and their pre-existing circumstances and state of health will also affect the amount of compensation that they can claim.

In cases where medical negligence has caused severe injury with long-term disability, claims often include compensation for:

  • pain, suffering and disability;
  • loss of earnings or pension;
  • costs of nursing care;
  • costs of medical treatment and/or rehabilitation;
  • cost of therapies, such as:
    • physiotherapy;
    • occupational therapy (OT);
    • speech and language therapy;
    • psychological counselling;
  • additional costs of necessary adapted accommodation;
  • additional transport costs or adapted vehicles;
  • specialist equipment;
  • other expenses.

When the claim arises from medical negligence which caused the patient’s death, a claim may be made on behalf of one or more of:

  • those entitled under the deceased’s estate;
  • the deceased’s partner or spouse;
  • those who were dependent on the deceased, such as children or other family members.

Depending on the circumstances, the fatal injury claim may include one or more of the following types of compensation:

  • a (fixed sum) statutory bereavement award;
  • compensation for loss of dependency:
    • on the deceased’s income;
    • on the deceased’s ‘services’, to cover the cost of replacing the childcare, DIY, driving, household tasks, gardening and other services which they provided to their dependants;
  • compensation for the deceased’s pain and suffering (caused by negligence) before their death;
  • funeral costs;
  • other expenses directly arising from the deceased’s negligent care and their death.
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Meet your specialist team

Our specialist Pulmonary embolism & DVT claims team are considered leaders in the field and have a significant amount of expertise.
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Susan Brown


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Julie Marsh


Richard Money-Kyrle headshot

Richard Money-Kyrle


Sita Soni headshot

Sita Soni

Senior Associate - solicitor

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Vanessa Wand

Senior associate - solicitor

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Tara Byrne

Associate - Solicitor

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Rachel Makore

Associate - solicitor

Alpa Rana headshot

Alpa Rana

Associate - solicitor

Fran Rothwell

Fran Rothwell

Associate solicitor

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Ben Ireland


Alice Carley headshot

Alice Carley


Audrey Elmore headshot

Audrey Elmore

Medical records coordinator

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Nicky Melville

Professional support assistant

Susan Brown photo
Julie Marsh headshot
Richard Money-Kyrle headshot
Sita Soni headshot
Vanessa Wand photo
Tara Byrne photo
Rachel Makore headshot
Alpa Rana headshot
Fran Rothwell
Ben Ireland headshot
Alice Carley headshot
Audrey Elmore headshot
Nicky Melville headshot

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