Pulmonary embolism or COVID-19 pneumonia? A case report

Respirol Case Rep. 2023 Mar 16;11(4):e01121. doi: 10.1002/rcr2.1121. eCollection 2023 Apr.


Pulmonary embolism (PE) is the most severe clinical presentation of venous thromboembolism (VTE), which can be challenging to diagnose due to its non-specific symptoms. The overlapping clinical symptoms of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and PE may make distinguishing between the two difficult. Thus, the diagnosis of PE may be delayed or missed, with grave consequences for the patient's outcome and safety. We herein present the case of a 63-year-old Iranian female admitted to our hospital showing symptoms of delirium superimposed on dementia. Soon after her admission, she developed a fever and respiratory symptoms. However, overestimating the likelihood of COVID-19 pneumonia and attributing the patient's symptoms to this disease led to a delayed diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary embolism, resulting in the patient's death. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a high index of suspicion is required for the timely diagnosis of PE, especially in patients with identifiable risk factors. This is specifically true for older patients who cannot express their symptoms due to neurocognitive disorders.

Keywords: COVID‐19; delayed diagnosis; pulmonary embolism; venous thromboembolism.

Publication types

  • Case Reports