Paramedics represent a beacon of hope during moments of emergency. They
are the ones dispatched to help injured individuals when there are calls
for help. However, what happens when they do more harm than good? In the
case of intubation procedures, that is usually the situation.
Endotracheal Intubation (ETI) is a procedure where a plastic tube is placed
into the windpipe (trachea) to help patients breathe. It has been a staple
in out-of-hospital standard care in the United States for over 25 years.
However, research has shown that paramedic intubations are all too common
and can cause more damage than good.
The Risks of Paramedic Endotracheal Intubation
Endotracheal Intubation is a complicated procedure that requires focus
and a steady hand. ETI is usually performed on patients who suffered from
attacks such as cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, and other major trauma
that affects breathing. If performed incorrectly, ETI errors can lead
to several health injuries including neurological damage and death.
There is an average of 25% of error in paramedic intubation procedures.
Researchers cite not enough training and a stressful environment as potential
reasons for the mistakes. According to researchers at the University of
Pittsburgh School of Medicine, ETI errors are higher because the paramedics
do not obtain the same training as other physicians. Their studies showed
that a typical physician’s trainee — in fields such as anesthesiology,
critical care medicine, and emergency medicine — received an average
of 50-100 hours of ETI training. In comparison, the average paramedic
student gets 6-10 hours of ETI training.
In addition to lack of training time, paramedics often perform ETIs under
chaotic and stressful situations. It is difficult to offer the level of
focus needed for such a procedure. This often leads to lasting mistakes.
Common paramedic intubation errors include:
- Disturbances in heart rhythm
- Misplaced tube
- Inadvertent oxygen saturation
- Not recognizing misplaced tube
These errors have the potential to leave lasting harm. According to researchers,
paramedic intubation errors lead to an increased risk of death and can
result in poorer neurological outcomes.
You Don’t Need to Suffer in Silence
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries because of paramedic intubation
errors, contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Paulson
Coletti. We respond to the legal needs of injured Portland citizens. We
believe you should not have to suffer for other people’s mistakes.
Call us today for a free consultation.