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An Indiana couple has filed a lawsuit against a Fort Wayne-area health care provider, alleging that a failure to diagnose a blood clot in the woman’s leg ultimately resulted in the amputation of that limb. According to the couple, doctors at the orthopedic firm failed to investigate symptoms of a blood clot despite repeated visits, failed to make a proper diagnosis, and failed to refer the patient to an appropriate specialist. The woman underwent an above the knee amputation because the clot prevented blood from flowing to her extremity.

Blood clots can be extremely dangerous. They can be caused by a number of different mechanisms, including traumatic injury, coagulation disorder, or lengthy periods of inactivity (such as a long plane trip or extended hospital stay). Certain common medications can increase the risk of a blood clot.

If a clot blocks a major blood vessel, the tissue that is supplied by that vessel may begin to die. This is a painful process that, if left untreated, can result in the loss of a limb. This is what apparently occurred in the case of the unfortunate woman in Indiana. Some clots dislodge from their original location and travel to the heart (causing a heart attack), lungs (causing a pulmonary embolism), or brain (causing a stroke). All of these conditions can be fatal.

Doctors need to be able to identify and quickly treat blood clots. Powerful thrombolytic “clot buster” drugs, while not indicated in every case, can rapidly dissolve dangerous clots before the damage becomes too severe. Other, less-powerful anticoagulants can help reduce the risk of injury from a blood clot. Be sure to talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your risk of this condition.

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