The lungs are at the center of the respiratory system. It’s like an expressway connected to the mouth that oversees breathing in and out of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Every cell in the human body needs oxygen; the oxygen inhaled from the atmosphere passes through the lungs to get supplied to the bloodstream and every other part of the body. However, the oxygen must pass through the right channel and not escape or leak to other surrounding organs like the pleural space. Else, it can lead to a collapsed lung.
What Is A Collapsed Lung?
A collapsed lung occurs when air enters outside the lungs in an area called the pleural space. This condition is also referred to as pneumothorax.
The pleural cavity, a fluid-filled space that surrounds the lungs, acting as a lubricant, can be filled with air, causing it to pressure the lungs and collapse. An individual with a collapsed lung can experience difficulty breathing, sharp pain in the chest, and dry coughing.
A collapsed lung can either be traumatic or nontraumatic, with each type having its causes.
A collapsed lung in a patient can result from an inherent lung infection or disease. It can also result from an injury like a vehicular accident causing a fractured rib to puncture the lungs or a hard hit to the chest from a violent act like a gunshot to the chest.
A collapsed lung can as well be a result of the negligence of a medical professional who is tasked with the responsibility of performing a surgery. Medical procedures like laparoscopic surgery, pleural biopsy, central venous catheter insertion, and therapeutic thoracentesis can cause pneumothorax.
An example is the case of Napier v. Northrum. In this case, the patient had his right lung punctured with the anesthetist’s needle, causing pneumothorax.
A collapsed lung can also happen to a person with no inherent lung disease. Alveolar abnormalities in the lungs can cause the air sacs to break, releasing air into the pleural space.
Proving The Cause of Collapsed Lungs In Court.
Like every other personal injury case that has been tried in courts across the world, in a case of a collapsed lung, its causation has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt for the victim to get deserved settlement.
In most cases, an expert witness is required to give technical opinion and analysis as to the causation of an injury. This is to assist the court in reaching a decision.
In a case of collapsed lungs caused by fractured ribs puncturing the lungs, a pulmonologist can serve as an expert witness in the case to give a technical opinion on the damages caused to the lungs. To do this, they can support their explanation with a medical animation illustrating how the force from a collision led to a fracture of the ribs, which ended up puncturing the lungs.
In a medical malpractice case where an injury during surgery caused a patient pneumothorax, the error and injury also have to be medically proven for the victim to get deserved compensation.
An example of a surgical error leading to pneumothorax is the case of Stearns v. Plucinski.
Another example is the case of Benson v. Vernon, where collapsed lungs resulted from an injury during a breast augmentation procedure.
These errors, which include a needle puncturing either of the lungs during surgery, can be illustrated with medical animation. With animation, how the air escapes into the pleural space, builds up pressure, and collapses the lungs can be well illustrated to support the technical explanation of the expert witness.
In conclusion, legal animation serves as an effective visual legal strategy to prove that the reason for a collapsed lung is the fault of another party. It can help the jury understand the medical terms they will need to decide on the case.
However, the animation shouldn’t be done by just any animation firm. It’s best if a collapsed lung animation is carried out by a medical animation company with expertise in creating admissible legal graphics.