The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published an alert last month related to hospital negligence: multiple reports of tubing misconnections leading to death or serious injury. These tubing misconnections arise in a number of contexts: a feeding luer (a tapered connector) erroneously connected to a tracheostomy tube; an epidural catheter mistakenly connected to an IV line; IV tubing erroneously connected to a trach cuff; IV tubing erroneously connected to a nebulizer; ventilator tubing improperly attached to a needless IV port; blood pressure tubing erroneously connected to an IV catheter; IV tubing erroneously connected to a nasal cannula; a syringe erroneously connected to a trach cuff; an enteral feeding tube negligently connected to a ventilator in-line suction catheter; a pulsatile anti-embolism stocking erroneously connected to an IV heparin lock; and more. In most instances, the patient died as a result of the error.
While all of these instances likely involve some degree of nursing negligence, the FDA alert makes another great point: in some cases catheters and tubing need not be connectable in the first place. Thus, in some cases where these medical mistakes occur, there may also be a claim for product liability against the device manufacturer.
Under Ohio law, when hospital personnel, like nurses or respiratory therapists, misconnect tubing and thereby cause harm to the patient, the malpractice claim can be brought directly against their employer, the hospital itself. These cases are classified as hospital negligence or nursing negligence cases. In Ohio, a hospital or nursing negligence case can be combined with a product liability case in a single legal proceeding so that fault can be apportioned fairly among all of the tortfeasors.