Treatment Options for a Traumatic Pneumothorax


Treatment Options for a Traumatic Pneumothorax

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento car accident lawyer. Traumatic injuries that someone could suffer in a car crash are quite varied. Many of them can be life-threatening. Today we will discuss a traumatic pneumothorax, also known as a collapsed lung. Depending on the size and the severity of this injury, someone could die from lack of oxygen in a matter of minutes. A recent review article was published discussing the possible treatment options for this injury.

How does a Collapsed Lung Develop?

Among the possible traumatic injuries that an individual might sustain in an auto accident, a traumatic pneumothorax is a severe, potentially fatal, catastrophic personal injury. The lung is filled with small sacs called alveoli that fill with air and transfer oxygen from the lungs into the bloodstream for transport to the body’s vital organs. There is a thin lining between the outside of the lung and the rest of the rib cage. If air gets in between this lining and the lungs, called the pleural space, the lung could collapse, called a pneumothorax. Therefore, any puncture in this lining can create an opening through which air can enter, collapsing the lung. One of the most common ways that this condition develops is through a bone fracture, where a fragment of the bone punctures the lining, such as a rib fracture. In a car accident, this collapsed lung can also show up if a piece of glass punctures the lining, creating a space through which air can enter. Finally, blunt chest trauma also has the potential to damage the lining and open the pleural space to air. If the opening creates a one-way valve through which air can enter and not escape, this is called a tension pneumothorax and can quickly kill somebody, leading to a potentially wrongful death. Therefore, it is important to understand the treatment options available because it could wind up saving someone’s life.

What Kind of Treatment Options are Available?

A team of clinical researchers conducted an extensive review of the online databases to find research papers discussing collapsed lungs and tension, traumatic pneumothoraces. They scoured the electronic databases and located close to 300 papers talking about collapsed lungs and how they develop. Through their research, they found a couple different options for treatment of these injuries that could potentially save someone’s life.

Needle Decompression: This is the emergent treatment option for someone who is found to have a collapsed lung at the scene of an accident. When looking at someone who is having trouble breathing, it is important to look at the person’s windpipe to see if it is deviating from one side to the other. In a collapsed lung, the windpipe will deviate away from the side of the collapsed lung because that lung is being “pushed” to the other side by the air in the pleural space, moving the windpipe with it. Insertion of a needle between the second and third rib on the side of the collapsed lung can release the air from the pleural space, allowing the lung to re-inflate.

Chest Tube Insertion: A needle decompression is only a temporizing measure in the treatment of a collapsed lung. The paper goes on to describe that a chest tube must be inserted to ensure complete evacuation of a pneumothorax. The patient should be taken to the hospital and medical professionals should place a chest tube through the patient’s back to completely remove the air from the pleural space. Once the air is removed, the pleural lining will stick to the rest of the lung, helping to prevent air from refilling the pleural space.

A pneumothorax is often accompanied by numerous other injuries that the patient will need to recover from prior to discharge from the hospital. During this time, patients could be forced to use vacation time, could lose their income, and have trouble getting insurance companies to cover their claims. This can add additional stress to an already difficult situation.

A Legal Professional can be Helpful

Someone who has developed a collapsed lung may not be able to return to work for an extended period of time. In this situation, people could be forced to use up a significant amount of their vacation time and might face the prospect of losing their job or have trouble qualifying for worker’s compensation. This lost income can leave families wondering how they are going to support themselves and pay their bills. This situation gets even worse if the insurance companies refuse to honor the claims that have been filed. For these reasons, it can be helpful to speak with an experienced legal adviser to learn about the options that are available for fixing these situations. Furthermore, if someone has sustained these injuries as a result of the neglectful actions of another party, that individual should be held responsible. A legal professional has extensive experience dealing with worker’s compensation issues, insurance claims, and can even take cases to court if necessary. Allow an experienced car accident lawyer in Sacramento to handle these issues so that the family can focus on the medical recovery.

Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Sacramento

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento car accident lawyer. People who have suffered lung trauma as a result of a car accident can call my office for free, friendly, and caring advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

The local chapter of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum of California has given me a spot among its members. The individuals in our section have made it onto lists of the top trial advocates in the United States. The lawyers in our chapter have assisted in negotiations of case settlements and have won verdicts of greater than $1 Million.

My historical verdicts and settlements are listed here.

My past customers have posted ratings on Avvo, Yelp, and Google Plus.

Image Attribution: The CC BY SA License has given permission to show this image under version 3.0. The picture was found first on Wikimedia Commons.

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