Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT), also known as wound-vac therapy, is a type of medical treatment used to help heal abdominal wounds or other wounds on the body. The process involves placing sponges and dressings over the wound and using a vacuum tool to suction out blood clots and other things within the wound.
While wound-vac therapy is a common procedure used in hospitals, nursing homes and patient homes across the country, case studies have also shown that improper use or cleaning of the wounds and the treatment system can lead to serious health complications.
The Law Offices of Freeman & Freeman has proudly stood with those who have been accidentally or intentionally injured due to the result of nursing home abuse or medical malpractice and complications arising from wound-vac therapy. We have outlined several common complications of wound-vac therapy to be aware of, as well as resources for legal options if you or a loved one is injured as a result of this controversial therapy option.
Common Complications of Wound-Vac Therapy
One common complication of wound-vac therapy is extensive blood loss. Such loss is most prevalent in patients receiving medications for blood clots, in patients with blood vessel grafts and in situations when the foam dressings stuck to tissue during removal. In instances of blood loss, a patient can lose enough blood to require a transfusion, which can result in additional complications and pricier medical bills.
Another common NPWT complication is infection or injury caused by left-behind sponges or foam dressings. Infections can occur in the original wound or in areas where bits of sponges or dressings have attached to the tissue. These infections can to illness and further injury, along with subsequent surgery and hospital care.
Additional complications vary, including inflammation of bodily tissue such as tissue in the abdomen (peritonitis). It is critical to understand that, when not treated quickly or correctly, any one of these complications can lead to death.
When Should Wound-Vac Therapy Not Be Used?
According to the FDA warning, NPWT systems using foam dressings have been associated with infections due to foam pieces adhering to tissues or becoming embedded in the wound. NPWT systems are contraindicated (should not be used) for certain wound types, including the following:
- Necrotic tissue with eschar present
- Untreated osteomyelitis
- Non-enteric and unexplored fistulas
- Malignancy in the wound
- Exposed vasculature, nerves, anastomotic site or organs
In addition, there are several known patient risk factors that a doctor should consider before using a NPWT system, which can include:
- Patients at high risk for bleeding and hemorrhage
- Patients on anticoagulants or platelet aggregation inhibitors;
- Patient height and weight;
- Patients requiring:
- Hyperbaric chamber
- NWPT use near vagus nerve (bradycardia)
- Circumferential dressing application
- Continuous vs. Intermittent NPWT
If the NPWT system was used for the above contraindicated wounds or on a patient at high risk for serious injury, there may be issues of both medical malpractice and product liability. A careful review of the facts will be necessary to determine who may be liable, if anyone.
Know Your Legal Options
If you suffered an injury or lost a loved one due to complications arising out of the use of wound-vac therapy, you may have cause to pursue a nursing home abuse case medical malpractice lawsuit. When it comes to determining liability, we will help you investigate and pursue all potential responsible parties, including:
- The nurses and doctors responsible for treating the wound;
- The nurses who were responsible for removing the sponges and foam dressings;
- The manufacturers of the sponges and foam dressings;
- The manufacturers of the NPWT machine; and
- The staff responsible for proper maintenance of the NPWT machine.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Suffering an injury from wound-vac therapy complications to help you can be devastating, and may create more problems than you originally had. You may find it hard to trust the doctor who recommended this treatment to you without fully explaining the possible side effects to you. Or, even worse, you may suffer permanent and debilitating injuries that will negatively impact your quality of life for years (or decades) to come. Whatever the case may be, you deserve compensation for your injuries.
For over sixty years, The Law Offices of Freeman & Freeman has represented hundreds of injured individuals and helped them receive the compensation they need (and deserve) to heal after medical malpractice and other personal injury accidents. To learn more about what you can do to protect yourself or your loved one from complications associated with wound-vac therapy, contact one of our personal injury attorneys to schedule a free consultation today.