Hospital Patient Disabled by Food in Lungs
After the settlement of a recent case, news reports told how a 58-year-old Basildon father is now disabled after receiving hospital treatment. On at least two separate occasions, medical staff flushed food into his lungs. Michael Moy, a married man from Basildon, has had to come to terms with the prospect of permanent disability after nurses mistakenly pushed the end of a feeding tube into his right lung instead of the digestive tract.
In October 2014, the unfortunate incidents occurred after Mr Moy underwent an operation to treat a brain tumour. Although the surgery at Queen’s Hospital, Romford was successful, worrying complications arose from the subsequent blunders in his care. Apart from mislocation of the plastic tube, duty staff seemed to have overlooked or ignored the standard precaution of taking an accompanying X-ray immediately after its insertion. After the omission of this vital check, food made its way into Mr Moy’s chest over the next two to three days.
After the distressed patient began coughing up blood, examinations revealed the terrible mistake. A week later, staff inserted another tube in Mr Moy’s lung. Over the following month, a gruelling series of fourteen X-rays revealed that an area of his right lung was expanding abnormally.
Diagnosed with pneumonia on the lung, Michael had to stay in hospital for four months, until early 2015. At that time he had contracted emphysema and bronchiectasis, diseases in which the lungs are abnormally wide and build up mucus. In this debilitating condition, sufferers are particularly vulnerable to airborne infections.
As a result, Mr Moy faces disabling injuries caused by medical mistreatment and negligence. A former railway emergency planning manager, he now endures coughing fits and lung infections and is unable to enjoy cycling and running. Whereas previously, he would go running or cycle distances of up to fifteen miles, he now struggles to mow the lawn of his home. Understandably, he speaks of his concerns about undergoing more medical procedures – and what it all means for his family.
To pay for Mr Moy’s future medical care and to compensate for the loss of earnings, lawyers secured an admission of liability from the hospital management, along with an undisclosed financial settlement.
Liquids and foodstuffs can cause serious consequences in terms of disease and shortened life expectancy if they get into the lungs. Fortunately, such difficulty is usually avoidable by good technique, following recommendations and observing precautions.
In this case, the staff failed to carry out proper checks and make sure that the feeding tube was in the correct position before administering food. When hospital directors ordered an investigation into the root cause(s) of the incident and the mistreatment, investigators determined that lamentably, the tube positioning had gone unchecked.
Termed a never event, the NHS chalked up a total of 277 such incidents occurred between 1st April and 31st October 2019. To look at this figure another way, there were almost forty serious and largely preventable logged patient safety incidents in an average month – despite the existence of national guidelines and comprehensive safety recommendations.
Of these incidents over the seven months for which figures are available, some fourteen injuries related to food administration through a gastric tube incorrectly inserted into the respiratory tract. Conversely, 143 involved surgery on the wrong part of the body, whereas a further 57 accidents involved forceps, swabs or surgical wire left inside patients after closing surgical incisions during operations.
Transparency and Safety
Since his case came to light, Michael Moy and his legal team have called for the NHS to redouble its efforts to reduce the frequency of this type of incident. Significantly, they want the public healthcare provider to be more transparent with patients when it deals with those problems and failures that do unfortunately arise.
Speaking for the hospital, deputy Chief Executive Kathryn Halford regretted the failure to maintain high standards of care in the case. She went on to apologise to Michael and his family, before reassuring them that the hospital had introduced a new policy on the use of feeding tubes. In future, a senior nurse would always carry out checks.
Queen’s Hospital opened in 2006. A sizeable acute facility within the National Health Service, it has one of the largest maternity units in the UK. It forms part of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust. Currently, although awarded high ratings in some categories, the standards of responsiveness, safety and urgent care service provision all require improvement at its flagship Romford site.
At the time of writing (March 2020), the Care and Quality Commission is carrying out a review of quality at Queen’s Hospital. As the independent regulator of health and social care in England, the CQC will be publishing an official report when its deliberations are complete.
Support for Victims of Medical Negligence
Thankfully, most surgical operations and medical procedures are free of incidents and lead to successful outcomes. However, even within respected and reputable healthcare providers such as the NHS, a limited number of mistakes and instances of negligence do still occur, whether due to momentary slips, failure to follow established safety procedures and checks, or a lack of concentration.
If you, a family member or someone you know has suffered as a result of medical maltreatment or negligence, including during surgery, there may be an entitlement to compensation. For free advice about claiming through our no-win no-fee legal service, please contact our specialists today. All calls are in confidence.