Death of a young woman from an undiagnosed pulmonary embolism.

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In this D.C. medical malpractice case, a local hospital and HMO failed to diagnose a pulmonary embolism, or blood clot, despite repeated signs and symptoms.  The HMO doctors didn't formulate an appropriate differential diagnosis - something physicians are taught in medical school - because they didn't put the "worst" first.  In a differential diagnosis, the doctor is supposed to put the most dangerous condition at the top (in this case pulmonary embolism) and rule it out before going to the next possible diagnosis on the the list. 

Because they did not follow this rule, despite the signs and symptoms pointing to pulmonary embolism (sometimes called PE) the HMO doctors did not order blood thinners that would have prevented the pulmonary embolism.

The patient, who was only 36 years old, left a husband and two children.