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A somewhat rare occurrence, air embolisms are typically preventable when proper precautions and procedures are followed. Unfortunately, sometimes health care providers and facilities are not as careful as they should be, which can lead to tragic results. If someone you love passed-away due to an air embolism, finding good medical malpractice lawyers to evaluate your case is vital. Although no amount of money can bring back your loved one, an attorney can determine whether you have a viable wrongful death claim and advise you of your options.

What Is an Air Embolism?

An air embolism occurs when air bubbles enter the bloodstream and block a vein, artery, or blood vessel. When these air bubbles travel to your brain, heart, or lungs, it can cause heart attack, stroke, brain damage, respiratory failure, or other serious conditions. In some cases, air embolisms causes death.

Causes of Air Embolisms

Air can get into veins and arteries in several ways, usually during an injection, surgery, or while an IV is being placed. In a medical setting, an embolism may be caused by:

  • Holes in tubing or catheters
  • Defective tubing or catheters
  • Improper priming of IV tubing
  • Improper insertion or removal of an IV line
  • Direct injection of air into a vein
  • Defective heart stent
  • Open heart surgery
  • Blood transfusion
  • Medication complications

If there is trauma to the lungs, ventilator-induced pulmonary embolisms can occur when a ventilator forces air into a damaged vein or artery. Because they provide direct access to the venous system above the heart, IV lines in jugular veins can also be a risk for air embolism. For an air embolism to develop from a central IV line, a sufficient amount of air must enter the system. Medical malpractice lawyers in Chester County, PA often employ medical experts who know how to determine whether an air embolism was involved in a patient’s death.

Preventing Air Embolisms

Physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals are trained to prevent air embolisms and to monitor patients to detect symptoms of embolisms during surgeries and other medical procedures. For example, patients are more likely to suffer from an air embolism if they are in a sitting position during an IV procedure, so proper positioning is vital. A pulmonary artery catheter or ultrasound can be used to detect air bubbles during surgery, and using an air occlusive dressing when a line is removed can help prevent air embolism.

How Do You Know If You Have a Case for Wrongful Death?

If you believe the negligence of a health care provider or facility caused your loved one’s death, seek the counsel of medical malpractice lawyers in Chester County, PA.  In most cases, air embolisms are preventable. However, you still have to prove negligence in a medical malpractice or a wrongful death claim. There must be evidence that a health care professional or facility provided substandard care, caused the embolism, failed to diagnose it, or failed to properly treat the condition.

An air embolism can sometimes be identified when reviewing medical records, especially if a CT scan was performed after symptoms appeared. The best medical malpractice lawyers in Pennsylvania understand how to properly investigate these types of cases. They typically enlist medical experts, review medical records, gather witness testimony, and thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the death to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

Do you need help determining whether you have a medical malpractice or wrongful death claim? Our malpractice attorneys in Chester County, PA at Perna & Abracht, LLC can evaluate your case and advise you of your options.