Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia

VAP is an acronym for ventilator-associated pneumonia. You can get VAP if you need a ventilator to breathe and the tubes that bring oxygen to your lungs get compromised with bacteria. When the bacteria reaches your lungs, it can cause an infection that leads to a buildup of fluid—a medical condition also known as pneumonia.

While VAP can be treated with antibiotics, it can complicate and slow down the recovery process that sent you to the hospital in the first place. This can lengthen and intensify your hospital stay and increase your medical bills. In the worst situations, VAP can create medical complications that can put you in danger. When VAP was a hospital-acquired infection, these repercussions would not have been your fault.

You deserve to be compensated if you got VAP in the hospital. The personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can fight for your rights to that compensation and work to ensure you get it.

Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP)

VAP stands for any kind of infection that comes from a ventilator that results in pneumonia. The type of bacteria that contaminates the ventilator does not matter–so long as it causes pneumonia and got into your lungs by way of a ventilator, it is VAP.

Pneumonia is the name for the medical condition where fluid has gotten into your lungs. That fluid can be a breeding ground for other bacteria that cause other medical complications and can reduce your lung capacity and keep you from getting the oxygen you need.

The ventilators that can lead to VAP are designed to bring oxygen directly to your lungs without you breathing in. They can enter your body through:

  • Your mouth
  • Your nose
  • A hole in your neck

If the tube that runs from this entrance point to your lungs gets contaminated with bacteria, it can lead to a lung infection. Because most of the people who are on a ventilator are sedated, it can be difficult to see that they have developed a condition of VAP. As a result, it has been estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of people who develop VAP during a period of hospitalization in an intensive care unit (ICU) die from the condition.

Symptoms of VAP

Because most of the people on a ventilator are sedated, in a coma, or otherwise not able to communicate with doctors. The outward symptoms of VAP are used most often to diagnose the condition. Those symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Low body temperature
  • Reduced oxygen in the blood (hypoxemia)
  • High amounts of colored phlegm

Unfortunately, these symptoms are also shared by numerous other medical conditions.

People who have developed VAP and who can communicate with doctors often describe the common symptoms of pneumonia:

  • Chills
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up mucus
  • Difficulty breathing

Diagnosing and Treating VAP

When they suspect VAP, doctors often run additional tests to see if that is what is happening. These tests frequently include:

  • Chest X-rays
  • Blood tests
  • Chemical sampling from your windpipe

If VAP is detected, doctors often prescribe antibiotics. The type of antibiotic depends on the type of bacteria that has infiltrated the ventilator tube and infected your lungs.

Risk Factors for VAP

Unfortunately, the people who are at the highest risk for developing a case of VAP are those who are unable to fight it off. People who need ventilators and who are in the hospital are rarely at the peak of health. However, the following issues can further increase the chances of acquiring a case of VAP in the hospital:

  • Prior lung problems
  • A history of developing pneumonia
  • Heart or lung disease
  • Tracheobronchitis
  • High exposure to antibiotics in the past

How to Prevent a Case of VAP

As a patient, there is very little that you can do to avoid a case of VAP. You have very little control over how a hospital operates your ventilator, and you are often unable to see what they are doing with it.

Hospitals and healthcare professionals, however, have lots of ways to reduce the chances that you develop VAP while in their care. Some of these preventative measures are very simple and straightforward, including:

  • Keeping your body temperature within the normal range
  • Cleaning the ventilator tube before using it
  • Resting you on your side in the lateral position, rather than in the supine position on your back

What You Can Do If You Acquire VAP at a Philadelphia Hospital

If you or a loved one goes to a hospital in the Philadelphia area and develops a case of VAP while you are there, you should try getting an independent medical evaluation. Relying on hospital doctors to diagnose and treat a case of VAP that was acquired at their facility can be a problem because they have a vested interest in downplaying the severity of the condition–they could face a medical malpractice claim if they are tied to a case of VAP.

If the independent evaluation finds that you or your loved one has developed a case of VAP, you may want to consider talking to a personal injury lawyer so they can conduct a thorough investigation of the cause. If the hospital was responsible for your case of VAP, then it should be held accountable and you should be compensated for the costs of your recovery and for your difficult experience.

This is where the personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help. By conducting an investigation into the hospital's intubation procedures, we can uncover faulty practices that could have put you at severe risk of developing VAP. Even if the hospital's procedures are solid, oversights, negligence, and poor execution can lead to you getting hurt.

With years of experience investigating these types of claims, the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help you or your loved one recover the compensation that you deserve. Contact us online to get started on your case and hold a huge hospital accountable for their poor practices.

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