It was recently reported that a confidential settlement has been reached in an Ohio medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a woman who died as a result of a negligent esophageal intubation, instead of the intended endotracheal intubation, and the failure to timely diagnose and respond to the esophageal intubation before the woman suffered a severe and irreversible anoxic brain injury that led to her death.
The Underlying Facts
The woman needed an MRI scan to determine whether a lump in her breast was due to a leaking breast implant or was a cancerous lesion. Due to the woman’s claustrophobia, she required anesthesia to relax her so that she could be placed in the MRI machine. The nurse anesthetist who attempted to intubate the woman negligently placed the breathing tube in the woman’s esophagus instead of her trachea, resulting in oxygen being deprived to her brain, according to the family’s Ohio medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit. The nurse anesthetist allegedly failed to timely notice the mistake before the woman suffered severe and diffuse anoxic brain damage that caused her to remain in a vegetative state until she died.
The Ohio medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit also named two physicians and two nurse anesthetists as defendants. The lawsuit was dismissed in November 2016.
The American College of Emergency Physicians warns: “At the time of initial intubation, proper endotracheal tube location should be verified for all patients. Failure to do so can lead to poor ventilation and oxygenation, and ultimately patient injury. Several techniques exist to assure proper placement. Chest and abdomen auscultation, pulse oximetry, chest radiography, and esophageal detector devices are helpful but have not been shown to be accurate in 100% of clinical encounters. In the patient who has adequate tissue perfusion, these techniques are not comparable to end-tidal carbon dioxide assessment for the verification of endotracheal tube placement. End-tidal carbon dioxide assessment is the preferred method for initial verification and continuous monitoring to assure proper location of the endotracheal tube.”
A leading cause of brain damage and death associated with anesthetic practice is unrecognized esophageal intubation. One study estimated that the frequency of esophageal intubation in emergency airway management of critically ill patients occurs at the rate of 8% (the Ohio woman who suffered the fatal esophageal intubation was not a critically ill patient and her intubation was not an emergency airway management procedure). Factors that contribute to unrecognized esophageal intubation include unfavorable intubating conditions, absence of appropriate monitoring, and inexperienced personnel.
If you or a loved one were injured as a result of anesthesia in Ohio or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a local medical malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice attorneys in your U.S. state who may assist you.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.