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Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Clots & Anticoagulants

Question: Pulmonary Embolism and Septic Shock

 lthompson - Fri Jan 04, 2008 10:03 am

Can small pulmonary embolism and septic shock have same signs and symptons? If so, what are the likenessess and differences and how can you identify them? How can septic shock be detected in an autopsy?

I know this is a lot of material to ask you to submit. My husband passed away six days after a partial nephrectiomy. The autopsy shows small PEs due to immobilization. He was moved turned twice and out of bed four times in five days. The prior 24 hours to his code blue, he was sweating, breathing heavy. semi aware of his surroundings, no urine, nody odor that I could not get clean and then 19 hours after code we let him go by disconnecting his 11 medicines. His heart stopped beating fter 13 minutes. Trying to get answers that no one will answer in our local area.

 John Kenyon, CNA - Sat Jul 19, 2008 12:13 pm

User avatar Hello Lori -

First, my belated condolences on your loss. I hope time has helped put this all into some sort of perspective for you.

Pulomonary embolism and septic shock can, technically, have some outward similarities but generally do not look alike at all. However, they certainly can coexist in the same patient. Septic shock also will produce different findings upon autopsy. While sepsis may have been present in your husband at the time of his passing (and some of your descriptors could fit that picture), it would seem the terminal event was the multiple PEs. One condition could even have led to the other, since with sepsis it is difficult to maintain correct body chemistry and blood viscosity could be affected, producing clots even with the patient being moved on a fairly regular basis.

Sepsis can be determined upon autopsy (and prior to death as well) by both symptoms and blood chemistry as well as multiple organ failure, which would seem to have begun in your husband's case. The ultimate cause of death is usually what is listed on the certificate, although sometimes it is listed as "secondary to" some other condition. Septic shock or at least sepsis seems a possible predisposing condition, although it is impossible to know without knowing what was written in the post mortem report.

Again, my deepest condolences. Hopefully by now you have learned more about the circumstances and perhaps have gained a little peace of mind about what had to be a difficult event for you and your family.

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