Tag: aspiration

Aspiration and Risks of Anesthesia

Aspiration and Risks of Anesthesia

By Patricia Iyer MSN RN LNCC

(Pat is a legal nurse consultant who provides education to healthcare providers about patient safety. She can be reached at patriciaiyer@gmail.com)

I woke up from a routine colonoscopy with coughing and not being able to speak. What went wrong?
The gastroenterologist told me I started coughing during the procedure. I inhaled some saliva into my lungs.

Aspiration is the entry of food, liquid, saliva, or stomach contents into the lung. The seriousness of this event can range from minor to a chemical pneumonia to death. Food particles that block the airways can cause suffocation. The people who are at risk for aspiration include people receiving anesthesia, those on ventilators, people with drug overdoses, strokes, traumatic brain injuries, and alcohol intoxication. These individuals have decreased gag reflexes, and are therefore at risk for getting substances into their lungs.

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