On July 3, 2013, a Tennessee medical malpractice jury returned a verdict in the amount of $15.2 million in favor of a 23-year-old man who suffered catastrophic brain injuries when his doctor removed his breathing tube (tracheostomy tube) and failed to timely or adequately respond when he had problems breathing 18 hours later, resulting in an anoxic brain injury leaving the man unable to speak, unable to move his body, and confining the man to bed for the rest of his life.
The Underlying Facts
The man was involved in a serious motor vehicle collision in 2007 when he was 17 years old and was airlifted to a trauma center. His injuries were serious and substantial and required that he be intubated for four days (his injuries included ten fractured ribs, multiple other fractures (including his wrist), and he required skin graft procedures). When he was extubated, he required a tracheostomy (a tracheostomy is an opening surgically created through the neck into the windpipe (trachea). A tube is placed through the opening to provide an airway and allow for the removal of secretions from the lungs. The patient then breathes through the tracheostomy tube rather than through his nose and mouth).
About one month after the collision, his physicians decided it was time to remove his trach tube so he could breathe through his nose and mouth but it was reinserted 24 hours later when he had difficulty breathing. He was subsequently sent to a rehabilitation facility for further recuperation from his injuries. The man’s recovery from his multiple injuries was slow and he had moderate cognitive dysfunction but he was able to communicate using written messages and he was eventually able to walk the length of a football field albeit with assistance.
During his third week in rehabilitation, his physician at the rehab facility decided it was time to remove the trach tube, which the physician removed at his bedside. About 18 hours after his breathing tube was removed, the man complained that he had the sensation of something being caught in his throat. The physician who had removed his breathing tube attributed his complaint to mucous and she left the rehab facility for the day.
The man continued to complain that he was unable to breathe right. Within a few hours, the man’s airway collapsed and the nurses on duty were unable to perform an emergency reinsertion of his breathing tube. Paramedics were called and performed CPR because the man had arrested. CPR was successful but not before the man had suffered a catastrophic anoxic brain injury (injury to the brain due to lack of oxygen). As a result, the man is now confined to his bed for the rest of his life.
If you or a loved one suffered injury as a result of nursing home negligence or nursing home neglect in Tennessee or in another state in the U.S., you should promptly seek the advice of a Tennessee medical malpractice attorney or a nursing home claim attorney in your state who may be willing to investigate your nursing home claim for you and file a nursing home negligence case on your behalf, if appropriate.
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