Minneapolis Nursing Home Resident Killed After Breathing Tube Error Cuts Off Oxygen

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on March 15, 2019 in Nursing Home Abuse
Updated on February 24, 2022

moving a dial on a medical device in a hospitalThe Minnesota Department of Health just concluded its investigation into the Nov. 14 suffocation death of a 75-year-old resident of the Benedictine Health Center. Investigators blamed the resident’s sudden death on a nurse’s actions and the failure of the facility to properly train the nurse on the use of a tracheotomy tube, which fed the resident’s lungs with oxygen.

The resident died when his tracheotomy tube was being removed under a doctor’s order to perform a test to see if the man could breathe on his own. However, during the test, the nurse made a mistake and cut off the man’s supply of oxygen.

She capped the resident’s breathing tube to allow him to breathe on his own. Then she left the room without deflating the cuff wrapped around the tube, which blocked oxygen from the man’s lungs.

It only took about 15-30 minutes for the resident to suffocate and die – The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office said suffocation was caused by inadvertent cuff inflation.

The nurse came back into the room 15 minutes after leaving and found the man unresponsive, according to the investigation. She called for help and did not know why the man was unresponsive.

How the Facility Has Responded

The Benedictine Health Center has suspended the nurse and has already conducted retraining of nurses on tracheotomy tubes, requiring them to demonstrate their competency with these devices.  

The CEO of Benedictine Health Center says they dispute some of the characterizations made in the report but will not dispute the summary findings.

The resident needed the tracheotomy tube due to a battle with throat cancer and some other health problems. This tube made speech very difficult – he was only able to get out a few words at a time.

Unfortunately, tracheotomy-related deaths are quite common. According to estimates from a 2012 survey of head and neck surgeons, each year there are about 500 tracheotomy-related deaths in the U.S.

Contact a Licensed Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

When loved ones die due to the negligence of nursing home staff members, their loved ones may be able to pursue compensation for the emotional and financial effects of their losses. While compensation can never erase what occurred, it can be a part of the recovery process for grieving families.

Our nursing home abuse attorneys in Wisconsin can guide you through the legal process. We have helped many victims of nursing home abuse recover the fair compensation they deserve.

Your consultation is free and you are under no obligation to take legal action. We will not charge for representing you unless we are successful in obtaining fair compensation.

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