If a serious and debilitating injury or death occurred as a result of an intubation mistake, The Mellino Law Firm can help you take legal action. You may also download or request our free and easy-to-read guide to filing a medical malpractice claim in Ohio. With more than 30 years of legal experience, our team of skilled intubation error attorneys in Cleveland can help you fight for a fair recovery.
WHAT IS INTUBATION & WHY ARE PATIENTS INTUBATED DURING SURGERY?
As About.com has stated, “Intubation is the process of inserting a tube, called an endotracheal tube, into the mouth and then into the airway. This is done so that a patient can be placed on a ventilator to assist with breathing.” General anesthesia paralyzes muscles, so, without this tube, the patient would be unable to breathe.
Unfortunately, according to Medicinenet.com, intubation mistakes can cause numerous injuries, such as:
- Damage to the teeth, soft tissues in the back of the throat, and vocal cords,
- Brain damage
- Cardiac arrest
Given the gravity of these complications, “It is no wonder that this procedure should be performed by a physician with experience in intubation,” the site remarked.
Unfortunately, as Emergency Physicians Monthly writer Rich Levitan, M.D., stated on March 14, 2011, “Repetitive practice cannot be done on the same patient to separate and examine the components of the procedure in real time. As a result, most clinicians improve their skills slowly, through… trial and error.”
HOW INTUBATION MISTAKES HAPPEN
According to Levitan, “Ideal patient positioning for direct laryngoscopy involves having the patient’s face plane parallel to the ceiling and elevating the head until the patient’s ear is horizontally aligned with the sternal notch.” However, positioning the patient is one of the most common intubation errors, per the blog Emergency Medicine.
“In the haste of the moment, it is a common error to fail to position the patient properly or to proceed with the procedure before the proper equipment is assembled and checked,” the website stated. “Simple omissions, such as failing to restrain the patient’s hands, removing dentures, or misplacing the suction device, can seriously hamper the performance of the procedure.”
In 2009, Johns Hopkins Medicine reported that “one to 10 percent of patients have difficult airways.” Since these patients necessitate special equipment, such as flexible scopes and long catheters, researchers put together a rolling cart that includes everything an anesthetist and surgeon could need in an emergency situation. “It seems an obvious solution,” said Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology Lauren C. Berkow, M.D., “but it’s not what people are used to doing. People had to run to five different places to get the right equipment.”
If it seems incredible that it took until 2009 to think of such a thing, bear in mind that this is partly why medical malpractice attorney Chris Mellino files lawsuits—to effect change and put new policies and procedures in place in order to save lives.
Even if a patient has a difficult airway, the intubator should be prepared. As the Emergency Medicine blog stated, “The majority of difficult intubations are predictable.” Indicators include visual cues, such as prominent upper incisors, a large tongue (such as in Down syndrome patients), facial or skull fractures, limited ability to open the mouth, and a short distance from the thyroid notch to the chin with the neck in extension.
“[T]he short, thick neck poses the greatest difficulty for performing orotracheal intubation,” the blogger wrote. “In such individuals, the larynx is anatomically higher and more anterior, which makes it harder to visualize the vocal cords.”
INTUBATION ERROR STATISTICS
“In the operating room, the failed intubation rate is approximately 35 in 10,000 cases,” Drs. Richard M. Levitan, Scott D. Cook-Sather, and E. Andrew Orbach stated in their clinical paper, “Demystifying Direct Laryngoscopy and Intubation.” This is a decent percentage unless your loved one was the victim of trial and error. Still, they said, “Although healthcare providers are trained to intubate with a laryngoscope, many are not comfortable with the procedure.” In fact, “Emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and physicians all have initial intubation success rates of 50 percent or less.
WHY SHOULD I TRUST CHRIS MELLINO TO HANDLE MY INTUBATION MISTAKE LAWSUIT?
First, The Mellino Law Firm does not advertise. Attorneys and satisfied clients send us the majority of our cases. Others find us online.
Second, Chris Mellino is respected throughout northeast Ohio for his ability to dig below the surface and make sure no fact is overlooked. In fact, Chris has been several cases that helped change Ohio law, including Moskovitz v. Mt. Sinai Medical Center (1994) and Watkins v. Cleveland Clinic Foundation (1998). In the latter, he and his previous partner were awarded the largest verdict in the state that year.
Third, medical malpractice lawsuits are labor-intensive, so we’re selective about the cases we accept. Some firms take every case that walks in the door, settle those cases for the first amount the defendant offers, so they can fund their next commercial to bring in even more clients, and leave clients in the hands of “case managers.” The Mellino Law Firm only pursues compensation for patients who’ve suffered a severe injury or death. By limiting the number of claims we accept, we’re able to give each one the attention it deserves.
Last but not least, since 2010, The Mellino Law Firm has been the only intubation mistake law firm in Cleveland to be accepted into Primerus, which screens potential members by speaking to judges, other lawyers, bar associations, clients, and insurance carriers about a firm’s integrity, work product, fee structure, education, civility, and community service.