A wrongful death lawsuit alleges Henry J. Berthelot was trying to perform routine cleaning of his tracheostomy tube when the device failed, suffocating him before emergency medical technicians could reach him.
Berthelot was well-versed in the requirements for maintaining his Duravent XL Model 11201-07 tracheostomy tubes, aware that routine cleaning was vital to prevent infection. However, the lawsuit alleges that upon removal of the inner cannula, the outer cannula separated from the neck flange, and Berthelot died before emergency personnel could arrive to help.
Henry’s wife, LaVon P. Berthelot, along with their children, Dean M. Berthelot, Jon D. Berthelot and Sean H. Berthelot, filed a wrongful death lawsuit on March 15 against the trach manufacturer Andreas Fahl Medizintechnik-Vertrieb GmbH, blaming them for trach tube defects that they say led to Henry’s death. The lawsuit advises the family is suffering the loss of Henry’s love and affection, society, companionship, services and consortium.
A tracheostomy is a surgical procedure in which a tube is placed through an opening in the neck and trachea to allow the person to breathe. A number of reasons may lead to the use of a tracheostomy tube, such as a large object obstructing the airway, an abnormality of the trachea that prevents breathing, neck cancer, surgery around the voicebox or paralysis of the muscles in the neck necessary for swallowing.
Doctors recommend trach tubes be cleaned two to three times per day. If the patient does not require a caregiver and has grown accustomed to the use of a trach tube, they should be able to perform routine cleanings on their own.