Recently in Tracheostomy Tube / Ventilator Complications Category

A tracheostomy is a surgically created opening in the windpipe (trachea) that may be used (for among other things) for patients who require breathing support with a ventilator (breathing machine). 

Regular tracheostomy care is essential in order to prevent complications including infection, windpipe damage, narrowing or collapsing of the airway and prevention of skin breakdown.  The good news is that tracheostomy care is a fairly benign process and complications may be preventable so long as proper care is provided.  Elderly nursing home patients and their families must attempt to locate nursing home facilities that are able to provide this level of care.  There are certain nursing home facilities that have Ventilator Units and hold themselves out as competent and able to provide the care required for such patients.

Unfortunately, we have seen situations where human error involving accidental or inadvertent removal of the tracheostomy tube results in permanent injury to the nursing home resident or even death.  In these circumstances, time is of the essence and the nursing home staff must timely and appropriately respond to the patient's respiratory distress.

A sample Maryland Wrongful Death/Survivorship Complaint involving claims of negligence relating to tracheostomy/ventilator care follows:


COMPLAINT

Plaintiffs, [insert names of Plaintiffs], by their attorneys, hereby file this Complaint against Defendants, [insert names of Defendants], and in support thereof, state as follows:

PARTIES AND JURISDICTION

1.At all times material to this case, Plaintiffs have been citizens and residents of the State of Maryland.  Plaintiffs [insert names] are the surviving children of the decedent, [insert name].  [Insert names of wrongful death beneficiaries] are wrongful death beneficiaries in this action pursuant to Section 3-904(a) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.
2.[Insert name] is the duly appointed Personal Representative of the Estate of [insert name].  The Register of Wills for Baltimore City, Maryland issued Letters of Administration to [insert name] on [insert date].  The Estate of [insert name] is bringing this survival action pursuant to Section 7-401(x) of the Estates and Trusts Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.
3.At all times material to this case, [insert names of Defendants] have been corporations engaging in the practice of medicine and rehabilitation services in Baltimore City, Maryland, and acting through actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees.
4.The venue for this claim is proper in Baltimore City, Maryland.  The amount in controversy exceeds Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00).

FACTS COMMON TO ALL COUNTS

5. At all times mentioned and relevant herein, [insert names of Defendants] have owned and operated the nursing home facility located at [insert address] in Baltimore City, Maryland, and have held themselves and their agents, servants and employees out to the general public as experienced, competent and capable providers of medical, rehabilitation, and nursing home services, and in such capacity owed a duty to [insert name] and the Plaintiffs to render that degree of medical care and skill which is ordinarily rendered by those who devote special study and attention to the practice of medicine, rehabilitation, and nursing home services.
6. At all times mentioned and relevant herein, all of the individuals at [insert names of Defendants] who participated in the care provided to [insert name] were acting on behalf of and within the scope of their employment with [insert names of Defendants].
7. On or about [insert date], [insert name] was admitted to the [insert name of nursing home] nursing home facility.  At the time of his admission, [insert name] suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and required ventilator support via a tracheostomy.  [Insert name] and his family selected [insert name of nursing home] facility because the facility represented that it had the equipment and trained staff necessary for the care of a ventilator-dependent patient.
8. On or about [insert date], [insert name] was evaluated by a nurse at approximately [insert time] and was noted to be awake and alert and in no distress.  Later that evening, [insert name] was found unresponsive in his bed by a respiratory technician. The technician noted that [insert name]'s tracheostomy tube was half way out, and he had no pulse.  The technician called 911, and paramedics arrived on the scene at approximately [insert time].  The paramedics were able to restore [insert name]'s breathing, and they immediately transported him to [insert name of hospital].
9. Upon admission to [insert name of hospital], [insert name] was diagnosed with continuous seizure activity secondary to anoxic encephalopathy.  [Insert name] never recovered neurologically, and life support was withdrawn on [insert date].  [Insert name] was pronounced dead at [insert time] on [insert date].  The Death Certificate lists the cause of death as anoxic brain injury.

COUNT I (Professional Negligence)

10. The Plaintiffs incorporate all of the allegations contained in the above paragraphs as if those allegations are set forth in this Count.
11. Defendants, individually and through their actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees, owed [insert name] a duty to exercise reasonable care in their treatment of him.
12. Defendants, individually and through their actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees, breached the above-described duty of care to [insert name], thereby deviating from the applicable standards of care, and were otherwise negligent, careless and reckless in that they, among other things:

a. failed to properly monitor and manage [insert name]'s tracheostomy;
b. failed to properly monitor and manage [insert name]'s ventilator support;
c. failed to respond in a timely and appropriate manner to [insert name]'s respiratory distress; and
d. were otherwise negligent and violated the applicable standards of care.

13. As a direct and proximate result of the above-described deviations from the applicable standards of care and breaches of duty by Defendants, [insert name] was caused to sustain serious, painful and permanent injuries to his body, including great physical and mental pain and suffering, and, ultimately, death.
14. As a further direct and proximate result of the above-described deviations from the applicable standards of care and breaches of duty by Defendants, [insert name], among other things, was forced to undergo medical treatment, and, as a result, was obliged to expend sums of money for medical, hospital and other care and treatment and was precluded from engaging in his normal and usual pursuits and activities, among other injuries and damages.
15. Had Defendants followed the appropriate and applicable standards of care, [insert name] would not have suffered the above-identified injuries, damages and death.
16. The injuries and damages herein complained of were directly and proximately caused by the negligence and want of care of Defendants, with no negligence on the part of [insert name] contributing thereto.

 WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs request that a judgment be entered against the Defendants for compensatory damages in excess of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) and any other relief to which this Court finds them entitled.

COUNT II (Wrongful Death)

17. The Plaintiffs incorporate all of the allegations contained in the above paragraphs as if those allegations are set forth in this Count.
18. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants' above-described negligence in causing the death of [insert name], [insert names of wrongful death beneficiaries] have sustained, among other things, pecuniary loss, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, loss of companionship, loss of comfort, loss of protection, loss of parental care, loss of filial care, loss of attention, loss of advice, loss of counsel, loss of guidance and loss of education. 

 WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs request that a judgment be entered against the Defendants for compensatory damages in excess of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) and any other relief to which this Court finds them entitled.

* * *

Please feel free to contact the nursing home neglect lawyers at Dever & Feldstein, LLC at (888) 825-9119 for a free consultation if you believe that a family member or loved one has sustained serious injury or wrongful death as a result of substandard tracheostomy/ventilator care, bed sores (also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers), nursing home falls, dehydration/malnutrition, medication administration error/prescription mistake, elder abuse or elder neglect.

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