If you are placed on mechanical ventilation through either an endotracheal or tracheostomy tube for over two days (48 hours), you are at risk for developing ventilator associated pneumonia, or VAP. VAP is a kind of hospital-acquired pneumonia in which the lungs become infected and can?t absorb oxygen correction. Unlike most other types of pneumonia, VAP is usually caused by a bacterium called pseudomonas. This type of bacteria is naturally resistant to many antibiotics, which makes it more difficult to fight than other types of pneumonia.
Patients who develop ventilator associated pneumonia are commonly sedated, so they can?t complain about pneumonia symptoms. The main indicators of VAP are fever, a dropping core body temperature, and a decreased amount of oxygen in the blood stream. Patients are at an extremely high risk if they are on a ventilator for more than five days, live in a nursing home, have been in the hospital on another occasion in the prior three months, or have been using antibiotics in the three months previous.
Unfortunately, many cases of ventilator associated pneumonia could have been prevented through proper care. The doctors and nurses should create the most sterile environment possible, and hand washing and isolation are both especially important. The patient should also not be overly sedated, which increases the risk of VAP developing, and most hospitals have a protocol to wean the patient from ventilators as quickly as possible. Doctors can also help to prevent VAP by raising the head if possible and placing feeding tubes in certain positions. If your medical team didn?t do these things, they may be liable for medical malpractice.
Not all cases of VAP are the result of medical malpractice. Studies show that this condition develops in almost a quarter of all patients who have to be on ventilators for over 48 hours. Sometime, the bacteria is within the patient before they ever get to the hospital ? it just has the ability to attack the body while the immune system is compromised. Sadly, up to 50% of all patients who develop VAP eventually die from it, especially if the infection resists antibiotic treatment, though it is difficult to specifically track mortality rates, since being on a ventilator is already really dangerous.
However, even though not all cases of ventilator associated pneumonia are due to medical malpractice from doctor negligence, some are, and if that is the case, you have legal rights. On average, a patient who develops VAP has to stay in the hospital an additional 13 days to get the infection under control, and the average additional cost for treatment alone is $3000 to $6000, according to one study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. If your doctors and nurses did not actively try to prevent this medical condition from developing, a medical malpractice lawsuit is the best way to pay for those medical bills, along with compensating you from lost wages, travel for follow-up treatment if necessary, and even pain and suffering.
How do you know whether or not your medical team was at fault? In many cases, that isn?t clear. That?s where a medical malpractice lawyer can help you. By looking at the situation, a medical malpractice lawyer can determine whether or not the doctors could be found negligent for your ventilator associated pneumonia development. You can also pursue a wrongful death case if your loved one perished while in the hospital after developing ventilator associated pneumonia due to medical staff negligence. When we put our health in the hands of doctors, we expect to be able to trust them. Unfortunately, mistakes happen, and in the medical world, these mistakes can be deadly.