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Doctor Errors: Negligent Intubation

Negligent intubation is one of the leading causes of malpractice suits filed against anesthesiologists.  These are also the type of doctor errors that should not occur.  Intubations can either be by endotracheal or tracheostomy tube.  The purpose of intubation is to provide adequate oxygen to patients who cannot breath on their own.  Sometimes this is because they are undergoing surgery and general anesthesia is required.  Sometimes patients need to be intubated because their medical condition is so serious they can't breathe on their own.  Patients with a severe head injury will be intubated to prevent aspiration, or vomiting into their lungs.  Patients with airway obstruction, such as an acute laryngeal edema, are intubed to protect and control the airway.

No matter what the reason for the intubation, it is critical that it is done properly.  Without oxygen, we cannot survive.  The brain requires a constant flow of oxygen to function normally.  Cells of the brain will start to die within a few minutes if they are deprived of oxygen.  If the brain goes without oxygen longer than this, serious and often irreversible damage is likely to take place.  After ten minutes, severe neurological damage has generally occurred.  Negligent intubation can lead to tragic consequences for patients and their families. Even when a person has recovered consciousness, he or she might suffer from a long list of symptoms.  The effects can vary widely, depending upon the part of the brain that has been injured and the extent of the injury.   

For patients who remain intubed, it is critical that the trach tube be managed properly.  Tracheostomy tubes have to be suctioned regularly.  Care must be taken so that a patient doesn't accidently remove their own trach tube.  When a trach tube is removed, it is critical that be done properly as well, in the event that the patient is not able to breath on their own.

When these types of doctor errors occur, it is important to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who is dedicated and compassionate and who understands the many difficulties faced by families when devastating injuries or death occur.  

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Q: What is medical malpractice?

A: Medical malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, hospital worker or hospital, whose treatment of a patient departs from a standard of care met by those with similar training and experience, resulting in harm to a patient...

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