Seat belts, shoulder straps or harnesses and air bags were designed to keep us safer if in a car accident or motor vehicle accident (MVA) and most times they do. However, there are times where the force of the airbag or locking of the shoulder belt can cause an aortic dissection. When a patient is evaluated in the emergency room (ER) after a motor vehicle accident, for a cardiac contusion or bruise across the chest area, the ER trauma physician should also look for and diagnose an aortic dissection before it can lead to multisystem organ failure or even death. This is even more of a problem if the car or bus accident victim was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident and their chest hit the steering wheel, dash board, another passenger or the back of a seat.
An aortic dissection or dissecting aneurysm is a very serious medical condition where a tear or rip develops in the inner lining of the aorta, the large artery that comes out of the top of the heart and supplies the rest of the body with oxygen rich blood. If there is a tear, the blood leaks into the middle layer of the aorta causing the inner and middle layers to separate or dissect. If enough blood is allowed to be lost, it can burst the aorta like a balloon bursting and can cause death.
Car accident victims who have an aortic dissection may complain of chest pain and think they are having a heart attack. The pain is usually described as sharp or stabbing and may feel like something is ripping or tearing in the chest. The pain is usually felt below the chest bone or sternum and may move to under the shoulder blade or back. It could also be felt in the shoulder, jaw, neck, abdomen or hips depending on where the tear in the aorta is.
If there is a delay in diagnosing an aortic dissection or tear in the aorta it can stop vital organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys, legs or intestines from receiving oxygenated blood that they need to survive. Any lack of blood flow to those organs can lead to liver failure, kidney failure, bowel infarctions or dead intestines, gangrene and amputations, heart attack or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and permanent brain damage. If too much blood is lost, it could lead to death. Aortic dissections can be life threatening if not managed with surgery before the aorta ruptures or bursts.
If you or a loved one was in a car accident and developed an aortic dissection that went undiagnosed or there was a delay in diagnosing a ruptured aorta, you may be eligible for compensation. Here at the Philadelphia Beasley Law Firm we have experienced legal, medical and motor vehicle accident teams that have over $2 billion awarded on behalf of our injured clients. Our accident and medical malpractice teams have worked on automobile, bus and truck accident cases that have made both local and national news.
Please feel free to contact one of our experienced accident lawyers, doctors, or nurses at (215) 866-2424 for a strictly confidential and free consultation.