A previous post on this Texas blog talked about how aspiration can result when a hospital does not position a patient properly in a bed or chair. However, the fact is that a number of different types of errors or omissions on the part of care providers can cause aspiration, particularly during an operation.
Although they probably thought of it as little more than an annoyance, many Houston residents have probably experienced aspiration at some point in their lives. At its most basic level, aspiration involves water, food or other fluid going down the wrong pipe; that is, down the windpipe and into the lungs, as opposed to down to one’s stomach.
A person can aspirate for a number of reasons. Aside from simply swallowing food too quickly or while trying to talk, aspiration can also happen when someone who is ill vomits and then winds up swallowing some of it. People frequently do get sick to their stomachs after a surgery, which makes aspiration more likely.
A person who, for whatever reason, cannot swallow properly is also prone to aspiration. In many cases, a person under anesthesia during surgery may be prone to aspiration since fluids from his or her stomach will have a tendency to come up during the operation. It is ultimately the surgical team’s responsibility to make sure that the patient does not aspirate.
As mentioned in the previous post, someone who is aspirating habitually may develop pneumonia as their lungs gradually fill up with fluid. Pneumonia is a very serious and potentially fatal medical condition, particularly for someone who is already in a weakened state.
Whether due to anesthesia errors, other surgical errors, or simply failure to monitor a patient, medical negligence is too often the cause of complications due to aspiration. When this happens, a Texas family can seek compensation for their additional medical bills and other expenses as well as for lost wages and non-economic damages.