Air embolism is a lethal condition caused by the improper insertion or removal of a central venous access device (CVAD). If appropriate safeguards are not taken by medical personnel during CVAD insertion or removal, an air bubble can be introduced into an artery or vein and travel to your heart, lungs or brain, causing respiratory failure, cardiac arrest or stroke. Our Philadelphia air embolism injury attorneys are ready to take your case if you’ve suffered harm.
Central venous access devices (CVADs), sometimes called central venous catheters or central lines, are commonly used in hospital or outpatient settings for delivery of IV medications, chemotherapy or other fluids. It is estimated that 5 million CVADs are placed each year in the United States. These CVADs can take many forms, including PICC lines, non-tunneled catheters (subclavian, jugular or femoral), tunneled catheters (Hickman, Broviac, etc.) and implanted ports.
There are strict and well-known guidelines for the safe insertion and removal of these devices so that air embolism does not occur. When these guidelines are followed, air embolism is entirely preventable. In fact, Medicare considers air embolism associated with CVADs to be a “Never Event,” which means that it should never happen with proper care.
One of the factors that make an air embolism so serious is the difficulty in detecting and diagnosing them, which unfortunately leads to many deaths caused by air embolism. Furthermore, because air embolisms are often caused by the placement and removal of a central line IV, the patients affected by air embolisms are often already very sick.
The specific symptoms of an air embolism vary depending on where the air bubble is located within the body, but general symptoms include pain in the joints and muscles, itchy skin, seizures, chest pain, tremors, irregular heartbeat, blurry vision, anxiety, and low blood pressure.
If an air embolism is suspected, a person should immediately lie horizontally, and be taken to a hospital via ambulance, where they can be kept horizontal. After arriving at the hospital, an air embolism can be detected in a variety of manners, including by x-ray, physical examination, and the usage of imaging tests.
Air embolisms can cause a heart attack, stroke, organ failure, respiratory failure, and other very serious medical complications. In some cases, an air embolism can be fatal. A wrongful death lawyer in Philadelphia is prepared to fight for justice for your family if a loved one suffers a lethal air embolism injury.
When an air embolism occurs in a healthcare setting, it almost always means that someone has not followed proper procedure. Unfortunately, approximately 1,150 deaths occur every year as a result of this avoidable complication. Almost universally, these deaths occur because nurses or doctors do not take the time to follow the strict protocols for CVAD insertion and removal.
These protocols include such things as making sure that the patient’s head is below his/her heart, instructing the patient to exhale during insertion or removal, making sure the patient is properly hydrated, using an occlusive dressing and applying pressure on the insertion or removal site, etc. If these and other protocols are followed, air bubbles cannot be introduced into the vascular system. When proper procedures are not followed, our Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers can help.
As previously stated, air embolisms are considered by Medicare to be a “Never Event,” meaning that they should never occur with proper care. Air embolisms can occur due to a variety of avoidable reasons such as defective or outdated equipment, but most often, they occur due to a nurse or doctor failing to follow proper protocol. As such, when air embolisms do occur, they are generally due to medical negligence or malpractice, which can give rise to a lawsuit.
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor violates an accepted standard of care, and a patient suffers injuries resulting from the doctor’s conduct. The “accepted standard of care” refers to the expected conduct of an otherwise reasonable and competent doctor. In the specific context of air embolism medical malpractice, the medical standards of care are easily defined, as air embolisms do not exist when standards of care are followed.
If you or a loved one have recently been hospitalized, received a central line IV, and later experience complications resulting from an air embolism, it is highly likely that you have a strong case for medical malpractice. After an air embolism is found, it is equally likely that a hospital will reach out to you to discuss the incident, including potentially offering to settle with you in exchange for avoiding a lawsuit. You should never discuss the possibility of settling a case before it even begins. Furthermore, you should avoid discussing the issue with your doctor or any nurses, as hospitals can use things you say against you in an air embolism medical malpractice case.
In other words, it is essential that you speak to a lawyer as soon as possible after suffering an air embolism injury. An effective lawyer can assist you in advocating for yourself to ensure that you are fully and fairly compensated for injuries suffered at the hands of negligent doctors and nurses.
If you or someone you know has suffered an Air Embolism Injury, you should contact one of our attorneys for a free consultation. Youman & Caputo has extensive knowledge of the issues surrounding air embolism and significant experience successfully litigating air embolism cases. Our Philadelphia air embolism injury lawyers will offer a free consultation and help you determine whether you might be entitled to compensation as a result of your injury. Call (215) 302-1999 today.
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