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Retired NHS worker passed away due to a misplaced feeding tube

Posted on 20th September 2021 in Medical Negligence

Posted by

Stuart Bramley

Partner and Solicitor
Retired NHS worker passed away due to a misplaced feeding tube

A 77 year old lady from southeast London, Maura Irwin, suffered a ‘slow and painful’ death due to medics accidentally putting her feeding tube into her lungs. It took 10 hours before the error was noticed, by which point the damage had been done.

In 2018 Maura suffered a stoke which resulted in her admission to hospital, an inquest heard it was the misplaced feeding tube which meant her lungs filled up and drowned her. It was said that the failure to check the tube contributed to her death.

The coroner, Andrew Harris, commented that her death was from 'unintended consequences of necessary medical treatment and subsequent omissions in care'.

Stuart Bramley of Tozers' medical negligence team writes

"For a tragedy like this to befall anyone is dreadful but it seems even more so given that Maura Irwin dedicated her working life to the NHS.  Inserting a feeding tube, a very commonplace clinical procedure, always carries the risk of it being accidentally placed in the patient's lung instead and it seems extraordinary that the standard checks for this were either not performed or were carried out but incorrectly. 

Not all deaths such as this undergo the full scrutiny of a Coroner's inquest and it is unsurprising that the hearing flagged up serious mistakes. That outcome will be small comfort to Maura's family but I do hope both that they secure some sort of resolution with the Trust involved and that appropriate lessons are learned to avoid a repeat of this anywhere in the country. "

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