Can Nursing Homes Be Liable for Feeding Tube Injuries?
Posted by PKSD Law Firm on December 17, 2021 in Nursing Home Abuse
Feeding tubes are used to help elderly residents get the nutrition they need. However, these tubes pose an increased risk for serious or fatal injuries. Often these injuries are the result of nursing home negligence. Learn more about these risks and errors, including when nursing homes may be liable for feeding tube injuries.
PKSD is dedicated to seeking justice when residents suffer feeding tube injuries. If your loved one has been harmed due to nursing home negligence, you may be eligible to seek compensation. Contact our law offices to schedule a free initial consultation.
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Why Would a Nursing Home Resident Need a Feeding Tube?
Residents fed by tubes receive liquid nutrition directly into their stomach or small intestine. This form of feeding is typically used for residents who have suffered a trauma, had surgery or have late stages of dementia.
However, regardless of the reason, enteral nutrition – the formal term for tube feeding – is not optimal. Even when residents take longer to eat, it is still preferable over tube feeding. Being fed through a tube can actually cause a resident to lose the ability to chew or swallow. Feeding tubes are never a first choice for providing nutrition. There is also no evidence that a feeding tube will prolong or even improve the quality of life for a resident.
Are There Risks Involved in Using Feeding Tubes?
Feeding tubes pose several risks to residents. Whenever enteral nutrition is recommended for a resident, these are some of the risks the family will need to consider:
- Surgical: Any surgery presents certain risks, especially as a person ages, but also when other medical conditions exist. Additionally, there is always a risk of the tube being improperly placed or becoming dislodged.
- Aspiration: There is no evidence that shows feeding tubes help to prevent the risk of aspiration.
- Malfunction: Tubes can become dislodged or have other issues that require another tube to be placed.
- Pressure injuries: Residents need to be immobile in bed during feedings. The need to remain in this position more than doubles the likelihood of developing pressure sores. It also reduces the ability for existing sores to heal while feeding tubes are being used.
- Discomfort: Feeding tubes add a level of discomfort, causing many residents to try to remove or pull at them.
The nursing home should carefully explain not only why feeding tubes are being recommended, but also the risks involved. Most commonly enteral feeding may be recommended after a resident undergoes certain traumas, surgery or health issues. However, there are many who debate whether there is any real benefit to feeding tubes, especially when considering the risks.
Nursing Homes May Be Liable for Feeding Tube Errors
Feeding tubes cause so much discomfort for residents that they should arguably be used as a last resort. In addition to the risks already mentioned, many feeding tube errors happen in nursing homes, including:
- Medication errors: Each medication must be reviewed carefully for the safest way to administer to a resident with feeding tubes. Staff should never assume that just because a medication is oral that it can safely be given through a feeding tube. Even crushing two or more drugs together could be dangerous, as it can create an unknown or unpredictable result. How an individual drug is designed to be absorbed or dissolved also comes into play. Medication errors involving feeding tubes can result in a serious or fatal injury.
- Clogged tubes: Feeding tubes must be properly flushed before and after feeding to prevent tubes from clogging. If a tube does become clogged, the resident will likely require emergency surgery. Other risks residents face from a clogged feeding tube is not getting the nutrition or medication they need. A clogged feeding tube can also cause severe dehydration. Unfortunately, common practice more often results in liquid feedings without flushing to save time.
- Incorrectly placed tubes: A tube that is not placed correctly can be fatal. For example, if the tube is placed into the bronchial tree, causing the resident to be fed into the lungs. This error can lead to sepsis and even cause death.
- Dislodged tubes: If a tube becomes dislodged while moving a resident, staff may often try to move it back into place without notifying the doctor. This can leave a tube incorrectly placed and potentially result in malnutrition and other injuries, even death.
Need Help for a Feeding Tube Lawsuit? Call PKSD Today
The overall benefit of feeding tubes is poor. Yet nursing homes continue to use them, even when there is no real need. Tube feeding a resident is faster and cheaper for the nursing home and they can charge more. When nursing homes place profit over people and injury results, they should be held accountable. Nursing homes should be held liable when their negligent maintenance leads to feeding tube injuries.
Our experienced Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyers at PKSD are ready to help. We have a long and proven track record of recovering millions for our clients. This recovery record includes a $4.6 million settlement for a pressure sore case.
PKSD. Experienced Legal Help You Can Trust. 877-877-2228