Visitor Question

Anesthiologist put breathing tube down esophagus instead of windpipe…

Submitted By: Christine (Bangor, Maine, USA)

My husband went in for surgery for removal of kidney stones, which is a two or three part operation. The anesthesiologist put the breathing tube down his esophagus instead of his windpipe. They discovered this after two minutes, when my husband’s oxygen level dropped. They then put it down the correct tube and continued with the operation.

A few hours later, my husband had high fever and low oxygen, and became very sick. After 36 hours the fever broke somewhat, but they said he could have pneumonia and ran tests. They determined he has a partial lung collapse and is now on oxygen in the hospital. They are unable to do the second phase of his operation for now.

They know they made a mistake and have admitted it, even one doctor said that this is an accident that normally happens when the anesthesiologist is inexperienced.

We don’t know how long before the second part of the surgery can take place. My husband will be discharged to recover with antibiotics and oxygen, and then have to go back to hospital to finish out the treatment.

This has also been a hardship because the hospital is two hours away from home, and we had to rent a hotel room, which is expensive. Now there will be even more expense because of having to go back home and then back to the hospital. Is the hospital and/or anesthesiologist liable for this mistake? Shouldn’t they be responsible for the collapsed lung and all the extra expense we’ve incurred?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Christine,

Determining whether your husband’s collapsed lung was the result of the doctor’s mistake (by inserting the breathing tube down his esophagus instead of his windpipe), is a legitimate medical question. The only one who can answer that question is an experienced doctor.

If you can find one or more doctors who will confirm the anesthesiologist’s mistake was the direct and proximate cause of your husband’s collapsed lung and resulting pneumonia, then you may the basis of a medical malpractice claim.

Unfortunately, it will be almost impossible on your own to find doctors who will criticize another anesthesiologist. There’s just nothing in it for them to do so, except unnecessarily upsetting other anesthesiologists in the community.

Instead, seek the advice and counsel of several experienced medical malpractice attorneys. These attorneys devote their law practices to representing victims of malpractice. Because they are only paid if they win their clients’ cases, you can be confident if your husband has a viable claim, the attorney will accept the case and pursue it. You won’t have to pay any costs until your attorney wins your case.

Additionally, medical malpractice attorneys have access to experienced medical experts, including anesthesiologists who are paid to testify in lawsuits.

Learn more here: Physician Malpractice Claims

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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