Hospital Errors Contributed To Patient Dying After Drinking Full Bottle Of Hand Sanitiser

John Haughey, 76.
John Haughey, 76.
John Haughey, 76.

Health chiefs have paid compensation to the family of an OAP who died two days after drinking a whole bottle of hand gel left on the end of his hospital bed.

John Haughey, 76, drained the 535ml bottle of sanitiser – which was 75 per cent alcohol – after being admitted to hospital following a chest infection.

The pensioner drank the liquid, which would be the same as drinking a litre of gin, in a confused state from a container attached to his bed at Hull Royal Infirmary.

An investigation found staff failed to act appropriately in the wake of the incident – errors which contributed to John failing to recover and his death two days later.

Medics also failed to record the patient’s breathing after he slipped into a coma.

John’s daughter Diane Atkin, 52, agreed an undisclosed settlement with the East Yorkshire hospital after criticising medical bosses for her own treatment following his death.

She said: “The top was so easy to unscrew and so easily accessible that it was an accident waiting to happen.

“It has been a disgrace from start to finish.

“We were kept in the dark with very little information by the trust over what had happened to my father, how it had ever been allowed to happen and the failings in treatment after he had swallowed the gel.

“What hurt us more though was the fact that we were shown no respect and my father suffered from such poor care.

“He went into hospital for his safety, rapidly went downhill and never came out.

“We asked questions afterwards – but never got answers.

“It was only when we had the inquest that the NHS were forced to answer questions by the coroner and we started to find out what went wrong – before that we just hit a brick wall.”

SWNS_GEL_DEATH_02John, of Hull, East Yorks., became unconscious after drinking the chemical on his fifth day at the hospital and developed bronchopneumonia due to acute alcohol toxicity.

He died two days later in September 2015 and his family have only last week agreed an out-of-court settlement.

The inquest into John’s death heard medical staff failed to record observations under the Glasgow Coma Scale – which would have given them a clearer indication of his state of consciousness.

Errors in monitoring contributed to his airways being left “unprotected and vulnerable” for seven hours, Coroner Paul Marks said during a narrative conclusion.

A pathologist stated bronchopneumonia was a “highly significant” contributor to his death and was a direct link between consumption of such a high percentage of alcohol and pneumonia.

Hudgell Solicitors, who represented the family, said the level of alcohol ingested was so high it was “certain to lead to him becoming unconscious and needing breathing support.”

But despite this no immediate action was taken by medical teams to assist his breathing.

Solicitor Michelle Tebbutt, of Hudgell Solicitors, said: “This is a truly tragic case which has highlighted many areas of concern with regards to safety on hospital wards of confused patients.

“There is obviously a matter of significant national interest with regards to the appropriate use of sanitiser gels and their availability to vulnerable patients.

“Mr Haughey had consumed the equivalent to a litre of gin, and it was therefore only safe to assume the worst.

“Independent medical experts told the inquest that it should have been assumed that he could become unconscious within the next hour or two, at which time there would have been a risk of aspiration.”

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust admitted breach of its duty of care and did not dispute being liable for Mr Haughey’s death.

The trust has since introduced lockable wall mounted dispensers and issued staff with personal mini bottles of hand wash.

Mike Wright, executive chief nurse for Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We would like to offer our apologies and our sincere condolences to Mr Haughey’s family for their loss and for the distress they have experienced.

“Whilst acknowledging that the standard of care provided did not meet that which the trust strives to achieve.

“We hope Mr Haughey’s family take comfort from knowing that subsequent actions taken by the trust have been robust, and that the coroner is satisfied that those actions will prevent similar incidents.”


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