Atelectasis. Pneumothorax. These are two of the words that may be used to describe the fallout from a punctured lung. That’s what happened and led to a lawsuit by an NFL athlete against a team physician.
Tyrod Taylor is currently a backup quarterback for the New York Giants. Back when he played for the Los Angeles Chargers, the team physician attempted an injection of painkillers into Taylor’s broken ribs. In the process, the medical malpractice lawsuit alleges, the doctor punctured Taylor’s lung. The case is set for trial later this year.
When a lung is punctured, air collects between the lung and chest wall. This is called pneumothorax. The added pressure makes it tough to breathe. It can also lead to a complete or partial collapse of the lung, or atelectasis, which only worsens respiratory difficulties.
Taylor’s lawsuit against the team physician and his orthopedic practice group alleges that the NFL star lost his job after the medical mistake, which caused “severe physical pain resulting in hospitalization, physical therapy, emotional distress and other past pain and suffering.”
When a punctured lung or pneumothorax is caused by health care, it’s tagged with the adjective iatrogenic. The most common cause of pneumothorax is iatrogenic, occurring in 5 out of every 10,000 hospital admissions.
According to medical research, the most frequent cause of health-care-caused pneumothorax is transthoracic needle aspiration (typically for a biopsy sample), followed by insertion of a central venous catheter. It can also happen with other types of injections, such as the administration of pain medication that occurred in Taylor’s care.
Physicians and healthcare providers should consider the possibility of pneumothorax when a patient has difficulty or discomfort breathing, an abnormally high respiratory rate, and abnormally soft or absent breath sounds as heard by stethoscope.
The treatment for pneumothorax depends on the person’s clinical condition. If the patient is in severe respiratory distress, a needle decompression can be used to remove the excess air that interfering with breathing. This will typically result in a rush of air and quickly alleviate symptoms. In severe cases, chest tube may be necessary.
If there’s a delay in diagnosing and treating a pneumothorax that’s causing respiratory difficulties for a patient, there can be serious consequences:
• Respiratory arrest
• Cardiac arrest
• Brain injury from cardiopulmonary arrest
If you’ve been seriously injured because of lung or respiratory care in Texas, then contact a top-rated, experienced Texas medical malpractice attorney for a free consultation about your potential case.