Intubation is a necessary medical procedure that can save lives. The standard medical process involves inserting an intubation tube down the patient’s trachea (airway) to help the lungs receive oxygen.

While the process is generally considered safe, there is always a risk of complications and, when done improperly, could lead to severe injury. Victims of malpractice during intubation may suffer from respiratory failure, laryngeal damage, or other serious injuries.


Were you or a family member injured due to improper intubation? You may be entitled to receive financial compensation. The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC are legal advocates for people injured through the negligence of a medical doctor or nurse.

Contact our Chicago medical malpractice law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

What Is Intubation?

Tracheal intubation is a medical procedure that involves inserting a breathing tube through the mouth or nose into the trachea (windpipe) to administer oxygen or other gases. It is often performed in critically ill patients who cannot breathe independently.

Intubation is typically performed in emergencies when the patient cannot breathe independently, such as after a heart attack, stroke, or drug overdose. In some cases, intubation may be performed electively, such as when a patient is scheduled for surgery and will be under general anesthesia.

Due to the inherent risks associated with intubation, it is considered medical malpractice if the procedure is not performed correctly.

Intubation Injury Statistics in America

Although intubation is generally safe, it can occasionally lead to significant complications, such as cardiovascular instability, severe hypoxemia, and cardiac arrest. In a recent study of 2964 critically ill patients from 29 countries, 45.2% experienced at least one significant adverse event during the peri-intubation period.

These findings highlight the importance of careful monitoring and close medical supervision during and after tracheal intubation.

According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, significant adverse events occurred in 45.2% of cases among critically ill patients undergoing tracheal intubation. The data suggests that while intubation is generally safe, it is not without risk, and complications can occur.

Endotracheal intubation, the most common type, carries a risk of medical complications in about 4 out of every 1000 patients. However, this number increases to about 8 out of 1000 patients for those who undergo supraglottic intubation.

There are also rare reports of death associated with intubation procedures, although this is typically due to other underlying medical conditions.

Causes of an Intubation Injuries

Damage to the larynx during endotracheal intubation happens in one-third of all patients who undergo intubation. The trauma can occur due to the endotracheal tube pressure on sensitive tissue or the cuff inflating and compressing nerves.

In some cases, this damage may be temporary, but it can also lead to permanent vocal cord paralysis or other serious complications. Because of the risks involved, medical teams need to take care when performing intubation and be aware of the potential for injuries so they can be treated appropriately.

The injuries could lead to serious medical problems such as damage to the vocal cords, necrosis, ulceration, and scarring. In some cases, this damage can even result in brain injury if the patient’s airway is not correctly managed.

As such, medical staff must be aware of the risks associated with intubation and take every precaution to avoid causing any damage to the patient’s open airway.

Injuries Resulting From Intubation Complication Medical Malpractice

An endotracheal tube, or ET tube, is among the most common tools used during general anesthesia when inserted through the mouth and into the windpipe. While the use of ET tubes is generally safe, many potential complications can result from their use.

Common intubation complication injuries from intubation malpractice include:

  • Laryngospasm is a sudden, violent spasm of the muscles in the larynx that can occur when the ET tube is inserted. Laryngospasm can lead to oxygen deprivation and even death if not treated immediately.
  • Esophageal intubation occurs when the ET tube is inserted into the esophagus instead of the trachea. This complication can cause severe damage to the esophagus, including perforation, and can lead to aspiration pneumonia.
  • Dental injuries are some of the most common complications from intubation. The teeth can be chipped, broken, or knocked out entirely when the ET tube is inserted. The plastic tube in the mouth can cause permanent nerve damage and numbness in the mouth and tongue.
  • Tracheal stenosis is a narrowing of the trachea that can occur when the ET tube is inserted. This complication can lead to difficulty breathing and may require surgery to correct.
  • Bronchospasm is a sudden constriction of the muscles in the bronchi that can occur when the ET tube is inserted. This complication can lead to difficulty breathing and respiratory distress and may require medication or mechanical ventilation treatment.

If left untreated, these injuries can cause long-term damage and even loss of speech. Thankfully, early diagnosis and treatment can often minimize or prevent long-term damage. Discuss the best treatment plan with your doctor if you have suffered a serious injury due to an intubation mistake.

How Can a Medical Professional Avoid Intubation Complications?

Medical professionals must avoid intubation injuries by becoming familiar with the different types of tubes and connectors available, which will help choose the right tube for each patient and prevent potential injuries.

Familiarization with proper intubation techniques is also essential, as is choosing the appropriate equipment for the workplace.

Intubation injuries can also be avoided by keeping the patient’s airway clear and free of obstruction and preventing over-insertion of the tube.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Case After an Intubation Mistake

It is vital to understand your legal rights if you or a loved one has experienced a medical malpractice injury after an intubation procedure. Who are the potential defendants in a claim? What are the possible damages that could be awarded?

Filing a medical malpractice case can be complex, but with the help of an experienced attorney, it may be possible to obtain the compensation you deserve. An intubation malpractice attorney specializing in medical malpractice claims can help:

  • Investigate your claim to identify medical errors involving airway management
  • Identify intubation errors that lead to brain injuries, infections, irregular heartbeat, coma, internal bleeding, or wrongful death.
  • Review medical records
  • Gather evidence
  • Build a case for a successful outcome

How a Medical Malpractice Attorney Holds Medical Professionals Financially Accountable in Personal Injury Claims

Our law firm handles many medical malpractice cases involving intubation errors where intubation specialists fail to follow established medical procedures and protocols for assistance breathing.

In many cases, the patient died or was severely injured in a preventable routine procedure that one awry when the medical professional breached their duty of care.

Malpractice lawyers prove financial responsibility to ensure that the injured patient and family members receive total and fair compensation, including economic and non-economic damages.

  • Medical expenses: All past medical bills and future medical expenses related to the intubation error should be included in the settlement. These economic damages may include hospitalization, surgeries, rehabilitative therapies, home health care, and other necessary treatment.
  • Lost wages: If the patient cannot work or must take a lower-paying job because of the injuries, they may recover these lost earnings in their settlement.
  • Future earnings: If the victim is never able to return to their previous job or earn the same income as before, this loss of earning capacity should also be compensated
  • Pain and suffering: The physical pain and emotional distress caused by the intubation error can be substantial. A jury may award significant damages for these intangible losses.
  • Punitive damages: In some medical malpractice cases, the court may award punitive damages to punish the medical expert for their negligence and deter others from similar conduct.

Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys have a proven track record of success in holding negligent medical professionals accountable and obtaining full and fair compensation for their victims.

If an intubation error has injured you or a loved one, we encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation.

Establishing an Attorney-Client Relationship to Facilitate an Intubation Injury Resolution

Attorney-client privilege is a crucial legal principle that helps protect the confidentiality of communications between attorneys and their clients. This principle is fundamental in cases where someone may need to intimate with an attorney about potentially private information.

Hire a Personal Injury Attorney to Resolve a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Do you believe that you or a family member is the victim of medical malpractice? Do you suspect that your tracheal tube injuries result from negligent intubation that caused your significant harm?

Our personal injury attorneys specialize in medical malpractice claims and fight aggressively on behalf of our clients to hold medical personnel financially accountable for severe injuries or wrongful death. We understand that a medical mistake involving intubation can harm a patient by not providing sufficient oxygen for the brain to function.

Contact an intubation malpractice attorney today at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Our law offices accept all medical malpractice claims and wrongful death lawsuits through a contingency fee agreement. This arrangement ensures you pay no fees for legal counsel until we resolve your malpractice lawsuit through a negotiated settlement or jury award.

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