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Man Died After Hospital Error Caused Pneumonia

Law Firm Urges NHS To Learn From Its “Basic And Avoidable” Errors


Medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell are urging hospital bosses to learn from “basic and avoidable” mistakes which led to a man dying when he was wrongly given food against strict instructions.

Mark Ullyatt, from Sheffield, died aged 40 on 23 February 2008, after nursing staff at the Northern General Hospital fed him a small amount of food and water, which got into his lung and caused him to develop pneumonia.

Prior to his death Mr Ullyatt had been recovering from surgery to remove his bladder and prostate gland and was strictly to be kept nil by mouth, meaning he should not have been given any food or fluids orally. 
Law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is representing the family, has welcomed the hospital’s decision to conduct an investigation and is calling for lessons to be learnt from this case.

Anna Manning, a Medical Law expert at Irwin Mitchell, said: “This is an extremely sad case as Mr Ullyatt was making a good recovery after surgery until the error in feeding him and providing him with fluid by mouth. 

“Nothing can ever be done to turn back the clock, but we welcome the hospital’s decision to acknowledge that mistakes were made in Mark’s care and to provide the family with a letter of apology.

“Patient safety must be the priority for the NHS. This was a basic and avoidable error that had catastrophic consequences for Mr Ullyatt and his family.

“Irwin Mitchell have repeatedly called for improvements in safety standards in medical care and will continue to campaign for the victims we represent until simple mistakes like these are eradicated.”

Mr Ullyatt, who suffered from spina bifida and traumatic paraplegia following a road traffic accident when he was eight years old, was admitted to the Northern General Hospital for surgery on 5 February 2008 and had recovered well following the routine operation.

Four days later he was given a small amount of food and fluid by a nurse at the hospital, which got into his lung and caused him to vomit. He then developed aspiration pneumonia and sadly died while in the intensive care unit.

Irwin Mitchell negotiated an out-of-court settlement from the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which admitted that mistakes were made in the lead up to Mark’s death.

Mr Ullyatt’s sister, Michelle Hilley, said: “The whole family was devastated by Mark’s death. Throughout his life he always faced difficulties as a result of the road accident but he was a fighter and was really well spirited.

“We have been very patient and have waited for more than two years for the Trust to acknowledge that it made mistakes while caring for Mark.

“We only hope that things change so that no one else has to go through what Mark did and what our family has.”