A tracheostomy tube is put down a patient’s trachea to provide an airway, enabling the patient to breathe. A personal injury or wrongful death claim can arise if the tube is defective, it was inserted or removed incorrectly, it was not correctly maintained and caused a fungal or bacterial infection, or one was not used when needed.
1. Tracheostomy Tube Recall
On June 23, 2015, the FDA announced a recall of certain Medtronic Covidien Shiley(TM) tracheostomy tubes, which were formed with a wider-angle bend than standard models manufactured after November 29, 2012. The recall was issued after 12 reports of serious patient injuries, including breathing difficulties that impacted oxygen levels. The recall is limited to the product codes and associated lot numbers listed on the FDA website. Lot numbers will appear on the product labeling and the number is structured with the first two digits representing the year of manufacturing, i.e., 12 is for 2012, 13 is for 2013 and 14 is for 2014.
2. Medical Malpractice Claim against a Hospital or Nursing Home
A patient (or family in the case of death) may have the right to sue a hospital or nursing home for medical malpractice if there is sufficient evidence of harm caused by any of the following:
- Incorrect tracheostomy tube insertion;
- Incorrect removal;
- Inadvertent removal when moving the patient;
- Failure to insert when needed;
- Failure to maintain, causing fungal or bacterial infection.
Any of these can cause the patient to go into respiratory and cardiac arrest. The resulting lack of oxygen can cause anoxic brain damage (anoxia) affecting both cognitive and physical functions. After 4 minutes without enough oxygen cells begin to die.
If the patient survives, he or she may have a personal injury claim; if not, the family may have a wrongful death claim. Either way, these are tragic cases. Survivors and families deserve answers, justice and compensation.