An Illinois settlement awarded the parents of a premature baby $12,500,000 after a feeding tube was improperly placed and formula was instilled into the infant’s lungs.
When the infant was born a few weeks premature, he had to be in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to gain weight and further develop. A nasogastric tube (NGT) was inserted so that the baby could be fed a certain amount of formula every two hours. After the tube was inserted, the baby received a total of three feedings and then developed respiratory distress that progressed into respiratory arrest. During resuscitation the doctor thought that the baby may have had a pneumothorax or collapsed lung so he inserted a chest tube. Instead of getting air back in the chest tube, formula started pouring out. It was at that time they realized that the feeding tube must have been in the lung instead of the stomach. Despite the emergency measures, the infant had a lack of oxygen to the brain and was left with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and cerebral palsy. The parents brought a lawsuit against the defendant medical providers alleging negligence and a breach in the standard of care. It was reported that it was the largest personal injury settlement in that county.
Whenever a feeding tube, NGT or oro-gastric tube (OGT) is placed in an infant or adult, the doctor or nurse must check for proper placement prior to anything being given through the tube. A common practice to check tube placement is listening with a stethoscope to see if the nurse or physician hear air bubbles in the stomach after air is injected into the tube. Unfortunately, this is not the best or most reliable way to check for proper tube placement. Because the stomach lies directly under the lungs, the health care provider could actually be hearing the air enter the lungs and not the stomach. A more reliable method of checking tube placement is by attaching a syringe to the end of the tube and aspirating or pulling back on the syringe plunger to see if stomach contents are aspirated. However, the best method to check for proper feeding tube placement is by obtaining an x-ray to see that the end of the feeding tube is in the stomach and not in the lungs or trachea (wind pipe). After initial placement is confirmed, the tube placement should also be checked prior to each and every feeding or medication administration.
If a feeding tube is in the lungs and formula or medications are administered into the lungs, the fluid blocks oxygenated air and blood from reaching vital organs such as the brain, liver and kidneys. A lack of oxygen or hypoxia can lead to permanent brain damage or organ failure.
If your child or loved one developed aspiration pneumonia, a lack of oxygen to the brain or organ damage due to an improperly placed feeding tube you may be eligible for compensation. Here at the nationally known Philadelphia Beasley Law Firm our experienced lawyers, doctors and nurses have evaluated hundreds of cases that involved misplaced feeding tubes or aspiration pneumonia. In addition to our experienced attorneys, we also have on staff two physicians and three registered nurses, two of them that are experienced neonatal intensive care (NICU) nurses and certified emergency room nurses. Our collective knowledge assisted in obtaining two of the largest medical negligence verdicts in Pennsylvania history, $100 million and $55 million, and the largest punitive damage award against a physician in Pennsylvania, $15 million, as well as hundreds of other multimillion dollar judgments and settlements.
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