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What Are the Dangers of Paramedic Intubation Errors?

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

Paramedics are usually the first medical professionals to provide treatment to someone injured in an accident or having some other medical emergency. In many cases, how quickly a paramedic shows up at the scene of an accident will determine if someone lives or dies. Paramedic EMTs in Tennessee have to take courses for about a year and then pass a state test as well as a national EMT test to work as an EMT. They also have to do a significant amount of time on the job training.

But despite all this training, just like other medical professionals, paramedics can still make medical errors that cause extra harm to people. One medical malpractice error that paramedics can make is a misplaced tube during necessary endotracheal intubation. This article will discuss what are the dangers of paramedic intubation errors.

Paramedic Intubation Errors

During some emergency situations, when an accident victim has difficulty breathing, a technique used by paramedics is endotracheal intubation (ETI). This is where the paramedic cuts a small slit in the patient’s throat and inserts a tube inside the patient’s windpipe or trachea. It will help the patient breathe in certain conditions. ETI is most often used on patients experiencing cardiac events, respiratory issues, and major trauma that affects a person’s ability to breathe on their own. Even though this emergency treatment technique has been used for decades, there are risks to its use.

Risk of Endotracheal Intubation

If performed incorrectly, the ETI technique can lead to significant injuries, from neurological issues to even death. Studies have been conducted on the ETI technique, and researchers estimate that 22% of cases involve some medical error during the procedure. The study, performed by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, suggested that the problem might be the amount of training paramedics receive on the technique of ETI versus the training received by medical doctors. Doctors receive, on average, 50 to 100 hours of training just on the ETI procedure alone. In contrast, paramedics receive only 6 to 10 hours of ETI training, on average.

Common Intubation Errors

Intubation errors can be caused by many things, including lack of training, the emergency situation, and performing the procedure in the field, which isn’t an ideal location or condition. The common intubation errors could include:

  • Incorrect tube placement,
  • Oxygen saturation,
  • Erratic heart rhythm,
  • Not noticing an incorrect tube placement,
  • Accidentally pumping air into the stomach, and
  • Disconnecting the tube.

A misplaced intubation tube can cause a lack of oxygen and ultimately result in the injured person’s death. When an intubation tube is incorrectly placed, the EMTs may think the patient is getting enough oxygen. But it may not be happening, which can cause significant brain damage— assuming the patient survives the lack of oxygen.

Medical Complications from Intubation Tube Errors

The ultimate danger of paramedic intubation errors is that they can result in life-altering injuries to a patient. There are significant medical risks when an intubation tube is improperly inserted or not monitored for mistakes or accidental dislodging. This can cause serious and permanent medical conditions. In some cases, the error could even cause death. Here are common medical complications from intubation tube errors:

  • Not enough ventilation,
  • Heart attack and other cardiac issues,
  • Brain damage,
  • Pneumonia,
  • Infection at the wound site,
  • Damage to the throat and vocal cords,
  • Stroke,
  • Irregular heartbeat,
  • Damaged lung,
  • Damage caused by extracting the tube,
  • Cervical spine injuries, and
  • Nerve damage in the neck.

When any of the above conditions appear after being intubated, it is possible that they were caused by paramedic medical negligence. If you have suffered one or more of these medical conditions, you need to speak to an experienced paramedic negligence lawyer to have your case investigated.

Your skilled and knowledgeable lawyer will be able to look at your medical records and investigate what occurred. If necessary, your attorney might even hire a physician to examine you, evaluate your condition, and review your medical records to determine what happened. This medical expert will be able to give an opinion if there were any medical errors made that caused these conditions.

What Monetary Damages Can You Fight For?

If you have suffered injury from medical negligence, you have the right to seek compensation for those injuries. But getting the compensation you deserve on your own can be challenging. Medical negligence is a complicated matter, so it would be wise to contact and hire a medical malpractice attorney to fight for your rights and fair compensation for your injuries. This money is designed to compensate you for the extra injuries and medical problems that were caused by the malpractice. Here are some of the damage categories that you can seek in a medical malpractice lawsuit:

  • Past lost wages due to being disabled from work caused by a medical condition;
  • Future lost wages and lost earning capacity if the medical condition causes an ongoing and permanent disability preventing you from working and earning a living;
  • Unpaid medical bills for necessary treatment;
  • Payment for the future medical treatment necessary to treat ongoing medical issues related to the malpractice;
  • Pain and suffering damages for emotional and mental distress the patient experienced caused by the malpractice, above and beyond the pain caused by the underlying medical condition;
  • Loss of life’s pleasures for the inability to do things that the patient enjoyed, such as hobbies, vacations, going out to dinner, and spending time with the family; and
  • Loss of consortium for the spouse of the patient for the diminishment of comfort, support, and services lost due to the patient’s medical condition.

Skilled Lawyer Offering Help with Intubation Negligence Injuries

If you or a loved one has suffered serious personal injuries from a paramedic making a medical error, you can seek compensation for your injuries. Medical negligence cases are very complex and difficult to win. But with the knowledgeable and skilled Tennessee medical negligence attorneys at Batson Nolan, PLC, you will have a formidable legal team on your side to fight for your rights. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.