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Errors inserting NG tubes can cause death

Some Kentucky residents may be interested to learn about a 52-year-old man who was taken to the hospital following a car accident. Medical personnel installed a nasogastric (NG) tube. Blood was discovered in the tube, which required the man's stomach to be pumped. Later, doctors realized that the tube had been inserted into the man's brain by mistake. Luckily, the man received surgery and the problem was corrected. Another patient was not as lucky. She died of sepsis after a tube was incorrectly placed into her brain.

An NG tube is inserted through the nose and goes into the patient's stomach. These tubes are commonly used to get food to a patient during surgery or a period of extended unconsciousness. However, they should not be used in cases where a patient has a skull fracture because of the established risk that the tube may go into the patient's brain by mistake and cause permanent injury or death.

Errors with NG tubes occur frequently due to the failure of hospital staff to behave carefully. Most NG errors are avoidable. Despite these facts, some doctors still use the NG tube as their first resort when treating patients and many are not as careful as they should be when inserting the tubes.

Patients who are injured by a doctor's failure to be careful may be entitled to damages. In a medical malpractice case, what a person may be entitled to is the cost of performing any remedial measures, any additional medical bills that result and pain and suffering. A personal injury attorney may be able to introduce injured patients to expert medical witnesses who will be able to review the evidence and testify as to why the patient is entitled to compensation.

Source: Health Tech Zone, "Recent Deadly NG Tube Error Causes Internet Sensation", Drew Hendricks, May 20, 2013

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