An iatrogenic pneumothorax is defined as a collapsed lung that results from a medical procedure or care and is a life threatening condition that needs to be treated immediately. The Chicago medical malpractice attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers represent many clients whose injuries were the result of a medical error or the failure of medical professionals to detect conditions that require an immediate response. Certain surgical procedures place patients at an elevated risk of lung collapse and it is imperative that these patients be monitored for signs of distress throughout the procedure and during their recovery periods.
How an Iatrogenic Pneumothorax Occurs
Between the lung and the ribcage is an area referred to as pleural space and when air begins to build up inside this space, it can place pressure on the lung and make it difficult for the lung to expand and fill with air. It often results from puncture wounds and extreme trauma to the chest in which the ribs are cracked or broken. Diseases and medical conditions make predispose a patient to experiencing a collapsed lung as well.
During some surgical procedures, an accidental laceration or puncture may cause the lung to collapse. Examples include inserting a catheter into a major vein in the neck, performing a biopsy or aspirating the lung in order to drain fluid. The treatment of cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, emphysema and pneumonia can also cause a pneumothorax.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
The symptoms of a collapsed lung include chest pain, shortness of breath, sudden onset of fatigue, bluing skin, increased heart rate and coughing. In order to confirm that the patient has a pneumothorax, a doctor must order a series of tests to determine the cause of the pain and other associated symptoms. Our Illinois medical error lawyers pursue cases in which medical staff does not act quickly to identify the underlying symptoms, fail to order the proper tests to diagnose the condition or do not interpret the result of the tests properly. These tests include the following.
- A physical examination of the lungs to identify irregularities
- A blood test to determine the level of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the bloodstream
- An x-ray of the chest followed by a computed tomography scan to confirm the diagnosis
How a Collapsed Lung is Treated
The inability to circulate oxygen throughout the body can result in damage to vital organs, including the heart, brain and lungs. Treating the condition requires regular observation for signs that the lung has inflated, the administration of oxygen throughout testing and treatment to minimize the loss of oxygen and needle aspiration to create a release of air or fluid in the chest cavity. If the pneumothorax is large or severe, a plastic tube may be inserted into the chest to remove air. Surgical intervention may be considered at this point as well.
The surgical options include an open chest thoracotomy— where a catheter is inserted into the pleural space to remove air pressure— or a video assisted procedure where a tiny camera is inserted to help a surgeon identify the source of the pressure and remove lung tissue so that the lung will inflate.
What to Do When Suspecting Negligence
When a doctor is the cause of the lung collapse, fails to order tests in a prompt manner when symptoms are presented or misdiagnoses the condition, a case can be made for negligence. When his or her error results in an injury or the death of the patient, the doctor is liable for providing damages to the victim or the victim’s family. It is important to seek the advice of an attorney right away when suspecting negligence because you have a limited amount of time to take action in the State of Illinois.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has assisted thousands of clients who have been injured or lost loved ones because their doctors breached the duty of care required of all medical professionals. Contact us to speak with one of our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys so that we can launch an investigation to determine whether you have the right to recover compensation for your injuries. If we are unable to secure damages on your behalf, our services will be free of charge.