Intubation is a common procedure done to secure a person’s airway. It involves inserting a flexible plastic tube, called an endotracheal tube, into a person’s mouth and down their throat. The tube is then connected to a ventilator to push air into a patient’s lung and assist with their breathing. This procedure is done because a person cannot breath on their own or maintain their airway. Therefore this procedure is commonly done when a patient is being given anesthesia for surgery and will be unable to breath on their own during the procedure. However intubation is also required when a patient is too sick (for example if they have a collapsed lung) or injured to breath on their own. However it is also used to remove blockages or to allow a doctor look at your airway.
What Are The Different Types of Intubation?
One of the more regular types of intubation is endotracheal intubation, where the tube passes through the nose or mouth into the trachea to help a person breathe while under anesthesia or due to a distressed airway. However there is also Fiber-optic intubation, in which a doctor inserts the tube into the throat to examine the throat or assist endotracheal intubation when a person cannot extend or flex their head.
Prior to the tube being inserted an instrument called a laryngoscope will be used to locate sensitive tissues, such as your vocal cords, to avoid damaging them while inserting the tube. If the doctor is having trouble visualizing sensitive tissue they may insert a tiny camera to help guide them.
What Kind of Injuries Can Occur During Intubation?
Injuries that can occur during the insertion of the tube include damage to the larynx, damage to the vocal cords which can affect your ability to speak due to vocal cord paralysis, inserting the tube into the esophagus instead of the trachea, aspiration, and puncturing sensitive tissue such as the lungs (which can lead to other complications such as the collapse of the lung).
Sometimes the injuries from intubation are treatable without long lasting negative effects. Other times they can result in permanent impairment or even death. Responsible parties could include anesthesiologists, emergency room doctors, nursing staff, paramedics, or EMTs. Your or your family member’s medical records will be able to show who specifically intubated you. If your family member passed away as a result of their injuries an estate will have to be raised in order to get their medical records.
Negligence in performing this procedure can involve not properly identifying sensitive tissue before placing the tube, or be due to the fact that someone inexperienced inserted the tube. There also could be negligence in not doing a follow up imaging scan after tube insertion to ensure nothing was damaged. Just because you suffered an injury during intubation does not guarantee you have a medical malpractice case though. In order to determine whether there was negligence involved or if your injuries would be considered just an unfortunate complication of the procedure will require a review of your or your family member’s records and consultation with medical experts.
The Thistle Law Firm is experienced at handling medical malpractice cases involving intubation and damage to a patient’s airway. If you or your family member suffered a serious injury following intubation the nursing home abuse attorneys at the Thistle Law Firm are here to take your call and answer your questions at 215-568-6800.