There are a lot of choices to make when a life threatening medical condition requires immediate decisions.

When blood clots land in the lungs, called pulmonary embolism, the patient doesn't have much time to live before massive damage is done. Doctors have to make decisions whether using blood thinners to bust up the clot is the safest thing.

The blood thinners could work or cause a massive bleeding which is just as life threatening as the original medical issue.

A new report in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers attempt to answer uncertain questions on administering blood thinning medications.

"The message to doctors is clear: Take the chance," said Paul D. Stein, a professor in MSU's Department of Osteopathic Medical Specialties. "It doesn't matter how old the patient is or what other chronic diseases the patient has. Administering the drug saves lives."

Stein and his team found a study that found that only 1/3 of high risk patients had received blood thinners.

They studied records from more than 1,000 hospitals and found that doctors were not giving blood thinners to high risk patients. Only 20% of unstable patients received the drug, while 80 percent of stable patients did. Patients who were older than 60 were dramatically less likely to receive the treatment.

"Physicians apparently are afraid to give thrombolytic drugs to pulmonary embolism patients if they are elderly or have associated illnesses, and for good reason," Stein said. "Bleeding can be severe with such drugs, but the fact is, a lot more patients die if they don't get the drug than if they do."

The article published in the New England Journal of Medicine can be found here.