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Updated May 5, 2006
Airhealth.org

Misdiagnosis

DVT is usually mistaken for a cramp, even when the victim is a physician. Those who seek treatment are usually misdiagnosed at first, increasing the risk of permanent vein damage and increasing the risk of death.

Here are two simple ways to avoid misdiagnosis.

1. If you have leg symptoms and the doctor says you have only a muscle sprain (or anything else other than DVT), insist on an ultrasound scan of the leg. We haven't heard of any case where an ultrasound scan failed to identify a symptomatic leg clot.

2. If you have chest symptoms and you are being told you have a chest infection, anxiety attack, heart attack, or anything else other than PE (pulmonary embolism), ask for a blood oxygen measurement. A small clip (no needle) placed on your fingertip measures blood oxygen. If the reading is below 80, you need a lung scan to check for PE (unless there is some other reason for low blood oxygen, such as emphysema.)

Since you won't remember this when the time comes, carry our free leaflet.

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