This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
Dislodged Tracheostomy Tube – $875,000 Settlement
After suffering a debilitating stroke, doctors needed to perform a tracheostomy on our male client to assist him with his breathing. The surgical procedure involved creating an opening through his neck into the trachea (windpipe) and inserting a tracheostomy tube through the opening. While an inpatient at a major hospital, it was the job of nurses on staff to check on the patient regularly to ensure that the tube was properly aligned and clear of obstructions.
Unfortunately in this case, the nurses failed to do their job properly. As a consequence, this husband and father of three children died when the tube was dislodged and his air passage became obstructed. A lawsuit was filed to help the family with their financial obligations and to provide for the future needs of the children. Rather than go to trial, the medical insurance company agreed to a settlement of $875,000.00 after lengthy negotiations.
Nurses Owe a Duty to Patients
Hospital patients and nursing home residents are placed in the care of medical professionals specifically to get better or to ease their pain. In the case of a hospital setting, they may be awaiting a life-saving surgical procedure or being carefully monitored for improvement after treatment and before being released. Those in nursing homes or inpatient facilities are often there for rehabilitative services or to help the patient stay comfortable.
But in either setting, patients are owed a duty by the medical staff to be attentive, available, thorough and professional. Nurses and other medical support staff need to come quickly when a patient sends an alert with their “call button”. Even though the patient might only be requesting a magazine or assistance with the television remote, they also might be calling instead about an emergency situation. In addition to being available for a patient’s concerns, hospital and nursing home staff owe a duty to keep the patient clean, fed, and give them an opportunity to use the bathroom facilities.
Yet for those residents who are immobile, sedated, or post-surgical, the duties that the nursing staff owes them could not be greater. These people may be unable to use their call button or may not even be conscious. They may be unable to move, or so highly medicated that they are effectively unable to assist with their own care or properly communicate their needs. As such, they need to be checked on consistently and carefully according to a regular schedule.
If the patient cannot move himself or herself easily for whatever reason, but will be in bed for long periods of time, then he or she needs to be moved or adjusted periodically. Otherwise dangerous bed sores or pressure ulcers may result. Those who are hooked up to an electronic lead, tube, IV drip, ventilator, monitor or such, need to have these connections examined thoroughly and often, as an equipment failure may potentially be fatal.
Nurses Must Monitor Tracheostomy Patients
Other times, as in our settlement detailed above, a tracheostomy tube is inserted in a patient’s trachea (windpipe) to assist with breathing and needs to be carefully monitored. When a nurse fails to properly monitor such a patient, there is always a danger that the tube may become dislodged, interfering with or completely obstructing the ability of the patient to breath, with potentially deadly results. If you think that a loved one has been harmed through the negligence of a nurse or other medical staff, call Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC at 800-996-4824 for free information.