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Family welcomes new guidance to prevent breathing tube deaths


A grieving family has welcomed new guidance to try to prevent a common surgical procedure from going wrong and causing deaths.

Oesophageal intubation occurs when a breathing tube is placed into the oesophagus, the tube leading to the stomach, instead of the trachea, the tube leading to the windpipe.

It can lead to brain damage or death if not spotted promptly.

Glenda Logsdail died at Milton Keynes University Hospital in 2020 after a breathing tube was accidentally inserted into her oesophagus. The 60-year-old radiographer was being prepared for an appendicitis operation when the error occurred.

Her family welcomed the guidance, saying in a statement: “We miss her terribly but we know that she’d be happy that something good will come from her tragic death and that nobody else will go through what we’ve had to go through as a family."

Oesophageal intubation can occur for a number of reasons including technical difficulties, clinician inexperience, movement of the tube or “distorted anatomy”.

The mistake is relatively common but usually detected quickly with no resulting harm.

The new guidance, published in the journal Anaesthesia, recommends that exhaled carbon dioxide monitoring and pulse oximetry – which measures oxygen levels in the blood – should be available and used for all procedures that require a breathing tube.

Experts from the UK and Australia also recommended the use of a video-laryngoscope – an intubation device fitted with a video camera to improve the view – when a breathing tube is being inserted.

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Source: The Independent,18 August 2022

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