Paramedic Intubation Errors | Paulson Coletti

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.