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aspiration pneumonia - Philadelphia Injury and Malpractice Attorneys - The Beasley Firm

A Feeding Tube In The Lung, Trachea Or Windpipe Can Lead To Pneumonia, Hypoxic Permanent Brain Damage Or Death In An Infant Or Adult.

By The Beasley Firm on June 5, 2012 - No comments

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.

Please feel free to use our contact form or call 1.888.823.5291 to speak with one of our experienced medical malpractice lawyers, doctors, or nurses for a strictly confidential and free evaluation of your case.


Nurses Need To Take Minor Steps To Prevent Major Choking Episodes Or Aspiration Pneumonias.

By The Beasley Firm on February 13, 2012 - No comments

A pulmonary aspiration is when food, liquids, drinks, stomach contents or secretions enter the lungs or respiratory tract.  It is frequently referred to as something that “went down the wrong pipe.”   In many cases, the patient will recover without any injury or pneumonia.  However, there are certain patients who are at a greater risk of choking or aspirating and developing a chemical pneumonitis, trouble breathing, sepsis, pneumonia, asphyxiation or lack of oxygen, brain damage or even death.

Patients who are at high risk of aspirating or choking are those with  traumatic brain injuries, alcohol intoxication, drug overdoses, general anesthesia, full stomachs, decreased level of consciousness, sedatives, sleeping pills, obesity, pregnancy, tracheal intubation, feeding tubes or generalized weakness.  Because these patients are at a higher risk of aspirating, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) issued a practice alert on aspiration prevention.

Based on their latest findings, the AACN recommends the following actions to help prevent aspirations or choking episodes:

  • Increase the patient’s head of the bed to a 30 – 45 degree and angle unless contraindicated.
  • Administer the least amount of sedative medications if possible.
  • Check or assess placement of a patient’s feeding tube every four hours.
  • Check or assess patients with gastric tubes every four hours for feeding intolerance.
  • Avoid bolus feedings or large feedings all at once in patients who are at high risk for aspiration.
  • Consult with a physician prior to any oral feedings to see if a swallowing study or assessment should be performed.
  • Make sure there is proper endotracheal cuff pressure.
  • Do not deflate an endotracheal cuff until all secretions are cleared or suctioned from above the cuff.

The AACN’s practice alert is a good reminder for all nurses to make sure they take these minor necessary steps in hopes of preventing an aspiration or choking episode in their high risk patients.  Unfortunately, not all nurses follow these aspiration precaution steps and patients wind up choking or aspirating and developing lung problems or even death.

Here at the Philadelphia Beasley medical malpractice law firm we have reviewed hundreds of cases where patients aspirated while in the hospital.  Our experienced teams of physicians and critical care nurses have spent thousands of hours in a hospital setting taking care patients that aspirated.  If you or a loved one aspirated while in the hospital and developed a pneumonia, lack of oxygen to the brain or died please feel free to call one of our experienced lawyers, doctors or nurses at 1.888.823.5291 for a strictly confidential and free consultation.  Since 1958, we have had two of the highest medical malpractice verdicts in Pennsylvania and have been awarded over $2 billion on behalf of our injured clients.