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What Questions To Ask A Doctor About Your Diagnosis After Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolisms are very serious and potentially leathal

Pulmonary embolisms (PEs) are very serious.  PEs are blood clots in the the lungs.  These clots prevent oxygen from reaching the blood in the lungs.  The cause of the embolism, the damage from the embolism, and any underlying conditions all need to be addressed.  In order to have all of the bases covered, patients need to advocate for themselves.

Throughout the hospital stay and in subsequent doctor visits notes should be taken.  Come prepared with questions for the doctor.  Make sure that you understand the treatment and why you are having it.  If you are having symptoms and no one can tell you why, keep asking why.  It is this persistence that can make your life more comfortable and keep you safe.

Here is a list of questions that you may want to ask while being treated for pulmonary embolism.

Drawing of a pulmonary embolism


Questions to ask your doctor

  1. Do I have any clotting conditions?
  2. What tests will you do for clotting conditions (and what are the results)?
  3. How long will I be in the hospital/what needs to happen for me to go home?
  4. Where did the clots come from?
  5. Are there any clots in my legs or other body parts that I should be concerned about?
  6. Do I have any heart damage?
  7. What tests have been done to look at the condition of my heart?
  8. How long will I be on anticoagulation therapy (warfarin, Coumadin, Lovanox etc.)
  9. Will there be any additional testing when I come off of anticoagulation?
  10. What is my target INR?
  11. What symptoms should I be concerned about?
  12. How will I know if I have any additional clots?
  13. What should I do if I suspect a new clot?
  14. What type of damage occurred in my lungs?
  15. What type of physical activity can I do?
  16. How should I regain any stamina that I have lost from the PE?
  17. How long can I expect to be healing?
  18. When can I go back to work?
  19. Who/where will I do my INR monitoring?
  20. What precautions should I take while traveling?
  21. What precautions should I take when having surgery?
  22. What type of birth control can I use?
  23. What should I do if I think I am pregnant or would like to become pregnant?
  24. Do any of my medications interfere with each other?
  25. What do you feel about home INR machines?
  26. At what INR should I be concerned about blood clots/how low can my INR be?
  27. What signs of bleeding should concern me?
  28. How long will my recovery last?
  29. Will you do any follow up tests to determine if the blood clots have dissolved?
  30. Would compression stockings help?
  31. How much water should I be drinking to help prevent clots?
  32. How do you feel about alternative/natural alternatives?
  33. What are my options for anticoagulation?
  34. How can I manage pain while on anticoagulation?
  35. How often should my INR be tested?
  36. What can affect my INR?
  37. Can I have a copy of my records and tests?
  38. What specialists do you recommend for my treatment team?
  39. What are alternatives to warfarin?
  40. Where did the clots come from?
  41. Have you checked out: Factor V Leiden, prothrombin 20210 mutation, homocysteine levels, anticardiolipin antibody titers, lupus anticoagulant, protein C and protein S deficiency, antithrombin III deficiency, fibrinogen, factor 8, 9, or 11 levels, genetic tests for Factor V Leiden, APC resistance, malignancies, liver problems.
  42. What medications and food interact with my medication?
  43. Can I be on a low dose warfarin therapy?
  44. How do you feel about generic warfarin versus Coumadin?
  45. What follow up tests/visits should I have?
  46. What should I do if I get sick and can't get out of bed?
  47. What should I do if I get stomach or intestinal flu?
  48. What should I do if I am placed on a new medication?
  49. What over the counter allergy, flu, cold, stomach medicines will affect my blood thinners?
  50. Should I see a cardiologist, pulmonologist, warfarin clinic doctor/nurse, or thrombosis specialist?
  51. What is the chance that this will happen again?

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