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Is A Perforated Esophagus During Intubation A Risk Of The Procedure Or Medical Malpractice?

by The Beasley Firm  |  September 13, 2012  |  

The esophagus is the tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. Any hole or perforation in the esophagus will allow the liquids or food particles to pass into the chest or mediastinum. Any foreign body in the chest or mediastinal area can lead to irritation and infection causing mediastinitis. Esophageal perforations can occur due to tumors, ulcers, swallowing a foreign body or caustic chemical, injury to the chest or esophagus, violent vomiting and intubation.

Esophageal tears or perforations can occur in the absence of any medical negligence when an infant, child, neonate or adult patient is being intubated or having a breathing tube placed. They can also occur due to improper, traumatic or forceful intubations. Any patient that has been intubated in an Emergency Room (ER), neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Operating room (OR), surgical center or anywhere else where intubations occur, should suspect an esophageal perforation if the patient starts showing signs of difficulty breathing, pain, difficulty swallowing or changes on a chest x-ray.

Patients who have a tear in their esophagus can also develop fast breathing, fever, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate and other signs of an infection. It is important for the physician, anesthesiologist, neonatologist, emergency room doctor or surgeon to diagnose and treat an esophageal perforation as soon as possible to minimize further injuries, septic shock or even death. Patients whose perforation is diagnosed and treated within 24 hours have approximately a 90% survival rate. However, if the diagnosis and treatment is delayed, the survival rate drops to approximately 50 %.

Depending on the size and location of the perforation in the esophagus, treatment could be nothing by mouth and a feeding tube until it heals, stent placement or surgery. If an abscess formed in the chest, it may have to be removed.

If you, your newborn or a family member suffered an esophageal perforation or if there was a delay in diagnosing a tear in the esophagus you may be eligible for compensation. Please feel free to contact one of our experienced medical malpractice lawyers, doctors, or nurses for a strictly confidential and free consultation. Since 1958, the Philadelphia Beasley Law Firm has been successfully representing victims of malpractice and has had over $2 billion awarded on behalf of those that have been injured or harmed.

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