Pulmonary embolism in medical patients is not infrequent and, contrary to general opinion, is actually commoner than pulmonary embolism occurring postoperatively. It has often been overlooked during the life of the patient even by experienced physicians, and it is still clinically diagnosed in probably less than half of the medical patients in whom it is discovered at autopsy. It was the experience of one of us (P. D. W.)1 five years ago that pulmonary embolism was diagnosed personally nearly ten times as often in the decade from 1931 to 1940 inclusive as in the previous decade from 1921 to 1930, although the patients suffered from the same kinds and degrees of cardiac disease in the two decades. The answer obviously was twofold: first, the possibility of this condition was borne in mind and second, the criteria for diagnoses became more clearly defined with experience.
Death from pulmonary embolism is
CARLOTTI J, HARDY IB, LINTON RR, WHITE PD. PULMONARY EMBOLISM IN MEDICAL PATIENTSA Comparison of Incidence, Diagnosis and Effect of Treatment in Two Hundred and Seventy-Three Cases at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Two Five Year Periods (1936 to 1940 and 1941 to 1945 Inclusive). JAMA. 1947;134(17):1447–1452. doi:10.1001/jama.1947.02880340001001
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