A pleural effusion is suffered when a patient has fluid around one or both of their lungs. This has many causes. They can be as a result of chest infections such as pneumonia or as a result of ongoing illnesses such as cancer. The main symptom is breathlessness but it can sometimes also involve chest pain.

In some cases a chest drain needs to be inserted to allow the fluid to escape and ease any breathing difficulties. In order for the drain to be inserted the doctor first inserts a guide wire under local anaesthetic. The drain (a tube) is then inserted and the guide wire removed. The drain can then work effectively and allow the fluid to drain away from the lung.

Unfortunately sometimes the treatment does not always go to plan. There is a risk that the tube will become blocked/clogged and if undetected could lead to hypoxia – the lung collapses due to the build up of fluid. Also, failure to remove a clamp from the tube can also lead to a build up of fluid causing further lung problems.

There are also events such as doctors not taking out the guiding wire after inserting the tube. Injury to the spleen, diaphragm or liver is also possible if the tube is not inserted into the correct place. As this procedure involves open wounds there is also a risk of infection and bleeding.