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Diagnosing pneumonia in New Mexico

Many New Mexico residents contract pneumonia each year. This illness could be caused by a virus or bacteria. It affects the lungs and can cause an excess production of mucus that blocks airways, which may lower oxygen absorption into the blood. There are several ways to diagnose pneumonia, such as x-rays and blood tests.

It isn't always obvious to people that they have this illness until it is longer lasting than a cold or flu. A failure to diagnose it properly may cause a worsened condition. A doctor could begin by inquiring about the symptoms being experienced and how long it has been happening. During the physical exam, they will listen to the chest with a stethoscope for abnormal sounds, such as wheezing or rumbling in the lungs. They could ask about possible exposure to the disease from people or animals, past medical history, smoking, and vaccinations.

A complete blood count is a blood test that looks at different aspects of the blood, such as white blood cell count. A high number of white blood cells indicates whether or not bacteria are causing the infection. A blood culture checks for infection in the bloodstream. A person with serious symptoms may be given several other tests. These include a chest CT scan, a sample of mucus from a deep cough, and a sensor measuring oxygen levels in the blood.

In the event a person is harmed by a negligent physician, due to a delayed diagnosis of pneumonia or other reason, an experienced attorney may be able to help. In some cases, a medical malpractice attorney may be able to demonstrate that there was a failure to exhibit the proper standard of care through a review of the patient's medical records and expert testimony.

Source: National Institutes of Health, "How Is Pneumonia Diagnosed?", March 1, 2011

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