Intubation Complications

Medical Information Provided By: Dr. Krista Kurtyan, M.D.
Legal Information Provided By: Hartley Hampton, J.D. and Christopher King, J.D.

Medical Malpractice & Anesthesia Negligence

If a patient is unable to breathe independently for any reason or is under heavy anesthetic, endotracheal intubation is necessary. A doctor inserts a breathing tube or a laryngeal mask into the windpipe, allowing a patient to receive oxygen manually (usually through a breathing machine). Complications arise when the tube is misplaced. For instance, doctors can inadvertently insert the breathing tube into the esophagus rather than the trachea—an even that can have fatal consequences.

One example of misintubation is known as “right mainstem bronchus intubation,” or endobronchial intubation. The bronchi are the tubes that fork out from the trachea and lead into each one of your lungs. If the anesthesiologist inserts the breathing tube too far down the trachea, it will be forced into one of the bronchi—depriving the lungs of oxygen.

The consequences of endobronchial intubation include:

  • Lung collapse (atelectasis)
  • Hypoxemia (lack of oxygen to the brain)
  • Hyperinflation of the ventilated lung
  • Heightened possibility of pneumothorax

One study described inadvertent bronchus intubation as a “sentinel event,” or an event that deserves immediate investigation due to causing serious harm or fatal injury. Hospitals and doctors understand that these simple mistakes are preventable and are the result of medical negligence.

Anesthesiologists are responsible for ensuring that patients are receiving oxygen during their procedures. Constant and thorough monitoring helps prevent respiratory issues that could lead to patient injury or death. As intubation is necessary in a wide variety of procedures, both elective and emergency, preventative measures are vital for saving patient’s lives and preventing lifelong injury.

The Leading Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Texas & New Mexico

Hampton & King is the foremost name in medical malpractice cases in the Southwest. Our staff includes a full-time doctor and a Ph.D. nurse—meaning our practice utilizes medical and legal training in our pursuit of compensation. If you or a loved one was left catastrophically injured due to an intubation error, it’s time to hold your medical provider accountable.

Call (713) 489-0993 for a free case review to learn if you have a valid claim—there’s no cost or obligation attached, and you deserve to know what happened. Share your story with us today.

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