What Hospital Patients Should Know About Fatal Air Embolisms

Posted on October 12, 2015 by Shapiro Law Group

Hospitals around the country refer to some medical mistakes as “never events”, errors that should not happen. Performing surgery on the wrong patient or body part, medication errors, using contaminated surgical equipment, air embolisms and misdiagnosing patients are good examples of never events. Air embolisms are an example of a truly horrifying never event because they are unexpected and kill quickly.

Venous air embolisms occur when bubbles enter the bloodstream and block the circulatory system. Air embolisms can occur during minor medical procedures and may catch doctors by surprise. Commonly used medical equipment can create air bubbles in the bloodstream if used incorrectly, such as IV lines.

These medical mistakes can kill patients by blocking blood flow to organs, such as the lungs. If an air embolism travels to the lungs, the oxygen supply to the brain is cut off, which can cause severe brain damage to patients who survive.

What are the Symptoms of Air Embolisms?

Patients suffering from air embolisms will experience symptoms of decompression sickness, such as dizziness, pupil dilation and joint pain. Symptoms can also vary depending on which organ the air embolism affects. Air embolisms that travel to the brain can cause immediate unconsciousness or stroke. If air embolisms travel to the heart, they can cause cardiac arrest.

Many air embolisms are preventable medical mistakes made by health care practitioners. Patients and grieving family members who have been affected by this type of never event should speak with a medical malpractice attorney to explore your options.

Shapiro Law GroupTampa Bay Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Tags: HospitalSafety


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