Breathing Tube Removal Mistakes Can Be Deadly for Hospital Patients
During sedation or illness, many hospital patients may require breathing assistance through intubation. The device used in this procedure is called an endotracheal tube (ET) which is placed through a patient’s mouth and then into the airway so that a breath can be delivered when used with a ventilator. The sensitive intervention can be especially necessary for patients with respiratory failure in both hospital intensive care units (ICU) and pediatric intensive care units (PICU).
Unplanned extubation (UE) is the uncontrolled and dangerous removal of this life-sustaining breathing tube. Sometimes the removal is self-induced by a patient, but healthcare providers also make deadly mistakes during the repair of a tube, suctioning, weighing, or replacing a ventilator circuit. Sadly, UE is a complication that occurs in more than 121,000 adult patients every year in the U.S. and kills 33,000 American adults, as noted in a recent article published in MedPage Today, authored by Art Kanowitz, MD, FACEP.