Feeding Tube Complications in Nursing Homes
The insertion of a feeding tube can be extremely beneficial when an elderly patient cannot consume sustenance through traditional methods.
Unfortunately, carelessness or improper use of the device often leads to a severe percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) feeding tube complication. Also, without proper hygiene protocols and infection control, patients that require assisted feeding can suffer serious consequences. The complications can lead to problematic medical conditions and even death.
The Chicago nursing home attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC have experience with a broad array of nursing facility negligence cases in Illinois. These cases include situations where a patient has suffered an injury related to complications with a feeding tube.
Contact our office for a complimentary assessment of your case involving a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy complication at a nursing home.
What is a Feeding Tube?
Medically speaking, a feeding tube is a device that transports nutrition to the patient's stomach when they do not have the ability or capacity to consume food on their own. PEG placement is a temporary or permanent solution as an effective way to treat an acute condition.
While there are different methods, there are two common types of tube feeding procedures. One involves an NG tube that allows nutrition to be transferred through the nose into the stomach. The other involves an NJ tube were nutrition is transferred into the small intestine.
Sometimes, when patients require long-term feeding, an incision is made into the abdomen, with a tube placed directly into the small intestine or stomach. Often, feeding tubes are a medical necessity to prevent malnutrition (see here) or dehydration (look here).
It is essential to monitor every resident with a feeding tube continuously. Any complication can develop quickly, causing dehydration, pneumonia, infection, diarrhea, vomiting, or another severe side effect.
A failure to provide needed care could result in medical malpractice if the patient suffers brain damage (medical negligence). Pregnant women on feeding tubes might be at a heightened risk of birthing a baby with umbilical cord compression, brain damage, cerebral palsy, or another birth injury during the delivery process.
Feeding Tube Problems Related to Improper Placement
Improper tube placement is just one factor that can cause a dysfunctional feeding tube. Once placed, the tube needs to be appropriately and carefully managed to minimize the potential of numerous medical conditions. Tube failure can result in serious injuries or illnesses that include wound infection, insertion site leakage, or esophageal perforation.
There is always a potential of dysfunction to some degree, even when the PEG is placed in the correct position. Many times, percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy dysfunctions will result in:
- Unexpected repositioning of the tube
- Inadvertent removal of the tube
- Tube clogging
Any complications can cause severe consequences without proper cleaning and care throughout the entire use while inserted.
Nutrient Malabsorption in Patients With PEG Tubes
When the condition of a nursing facility resident fitted with a PEG tube is not managed correctly, there can be severe nutrient malabsorption, resulting in malnutrition. The nursing home staff must routinely assess the patient's condition and their ability to absorb nutrients properly.
When the resident is suffering from malnutrition, the staff must adjust the number of nutrients received, or make changes in the tube placement. Any neglect and abuse in the nursing facility by improperly trained staff can create serious health complications, including diarrhea that is induced by the feeding tube.
Training Staff to Avoiding Serious PEG Tube Problems
Friends and family members of patients in a nursing facility being fed with the percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube need to understand how the process works. If their loved one looks malnourished, it is essential to ask the right questions and ensure that the staff is assisting the patient in preventing the potential of any PEG issue.
The staff attending the patient needs to ensure he or she is positioned at the appropriate angle during feeding. This procedure will avoid the increased potential of aspiration, where vomit pushes the nutritional food back through the tube.
The staff must routinely monitor the patient and look for any signs of dysfunction that include infection or leaking. There should be constant monitoring to ensure there is no misplacement or dislodging of the tube. The tube must be placed securely in the intestines or the stomach. A tube check must be done before every feeding, a step that is typically overlooked by professional nursing home staff.
Sample Nursing Home Feeding Tube Lawsuits, Settlement Claims and Awards
$3.8 Million Chicago Settlement; PEG Tube Accident Case
This lawsuit was filed in Illinois court by a family after their loved one passed away at a local hospital. The middle-aged man was survived by a wife and children.
He was admitted to the facility after injuring himself in a fall. He sustained broken ribs, a brain injury, and other wounds that required a surgical procedure. However, none of these were life-threatening, nor could they have severely reduced his life expectancy.
His life expectancy changed, though, when personnel at the hospital accidentally placed his PEG into his lung. Even though the staff worked with the PEG tube and took an X-ray, they did not catch their mistake. The man subsequently suffered massive oxygen deprivation and died.
His family sued the facility for negligence and wrongful death. They sought compensation for their damages, including pain, grief, medical bills, lost support, and lost future earnings, among others.
The nursing home had little evidence to defend their case and did not want to waste further time and money on the dispute. After the defendant's elected to settle the case, the family received $3.8 million.
$400,000 Chicago Settlement; Feeding Tube Accident Case
An elderly man's family took legal action after he passed away in an Illinois nursing center. He was eighty years old when he choked on food and died.
Before the incident, he suffered diabetes and required a PEG and a special diet. The staff deviated from that prescribed course of care and gave him hard food through the mouth.
The resident could not consume solid foods and died from the mistake. His children filed a civil lawsuit in state court for the pain and loss of his death. They sought compensation from the facility and the medical professionals who rendered him care.
The family cited the deviation from the PEG as the cause of his death. They claimed that a reasonable caretaker would not have made that mistake. Neither affirming or denying the underlying allegations of the complaint, the defendants chose to settle with the plaintiffs for a reported $400,000.
$1,500,000 Chicago Settlement; Feeding Tube Accident Case
This unfortunate controversy involved a choking accident of an eighty-year-old victim in an Illinois hospital. He passed away from the injuries he sustained in this event. Initially, he was admitted to the Chicago-area hospital because he had pneumonia and other serious health issues.
The staff was required to place a PEG tube properly so that he could maintain a healthy diet. Instead, they inserted the tube down his lung and checked for this problem during a routine x-ray examination.
Unfortunately, the doctors reviewed the results of the wrong test and never obtained the verification that the tube was placed correctly. Subsequently, the man experienced oxygen deprivation and passed away.
The lawsuit targeted the hospital and doctors claiming that there were glaring errors in the man's care. The plaintiffs seek compensation for their combined negligence and the man's wrongful death. In a negotiated out-of-court settlement, the plaintiffs recovered $1.5 million in compensation.
$2 Million Illinois Verdict; Feeding Tube Accident Case
This case was filed after a middle-aged man who is fed through a PEG tube died in a nursing facility. He was sent there after sustaining injuries in an auto crash. At some point during his stay there, he inadvertently dislodged the tube.
A nursing facility staff member reinserted the device, but she did not check to make sure that the tube was placed in his stomach rather than his lungs. Unfortunately, the next day, he began to experience difficulty when breathing with the tube inserted incorrectly.
His condition progressed until he lost consciousness and died. There was controversy over why the attending doctor did not transfer him to a local hospital sooner. That case was heard at trial. The jurors found that the defendants must pay the plaintiff (the man's family) a $2 million award for the tragedy and costs of his untimely passing.
Seeking Compensation When an Illinois Nursing Facility Fails To Provide Quality Care for a Patient With a PEG Tube
The Cook County attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC help victims of a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) complication when the nursing facility staff fails to do their job. The skilled attorneys can build the case on the mistake of the nursing home in not monitoring the victim while providing him with nutrition through a PEG tube.
As skilled Chicago nursing home attorneys, the Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can assess the merits of the case, and provide representation on the best ways to proceed legally. Let us investigate your case and file a medical malpractice lawsuit on your behalf. Call the firm at (888) 424-5757.