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Inquest Hears Doctors Mistakenly Inserted Feeding Tube Into Great-Grandmother’s Lung

Expert Lawyers Call For Lessons To Be Learnt By Hospital Trust.


Expert lawyers acting for the devastated daughter of a 90-year-old pensioner who died after doctors incorrectly inserted a feeding tube into her lung have called on the hospital trust to show that improvements have been made to prevent the same ‘horrifying’ mistake from happening again.

Margaret Burton, a former shop owner of Yarm on Tees, died in March 2009 of pneumonia after medical staff at the University of North Tees Hospital failed to spot a naso-gastric tube had been inserted into her lung, rather than her stomach.

Following a two–day inquest into her death Middlesborough Coroner’s Court heard that The North Tees and Hartlepool Hospital Trust has now introduced further training for junior doctors. HM Coroner for Teesside, Michael Sheffield, today (23 May) recorded a verdict of accidental death, contributed to by system neglect.

Margaret’s devastated daughter Anne Anderson contacted medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell in a battle to gain answers about her mum’s death.

Margaret, a grandmother and great grandmother of three, was first admitted to North Tees Hospital on 13 March 2009 after collapsing at the Park House Residential home, where she’d lived for three months, following a stroke.

Doctors inserted a feeding tube but failed to notice the X-ray that showed it had been wrongly inserted into her lung.
It wasn’t until the following day, after another X-ray was taken, that doctors realised the tube was causing irreparable damage, and removed it immediately.

Margaret was distressed and in agony after the removal of the tube, and her condition quickly deteriorated. After contracting pneumonia as a result, she died on 31 March, 2009.

Lindsey Henderson, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office said: “This inquest was part of a long and difficult process for Mrs Burton’s family and we were determined to make sure they got the answers they deserved about the horrifying treatment, which sadly led to her death.

“We are relieved that dramatic improvements have been made and doctors have been retrained to recognise the mistake immediately to prevent anything like this from happening again.”

Mrs Anderson said: “When I visited my mum the morning after the tube was inserted, I knew something was very wrong because she was babbling incoherently. I took her hand and asked her to blink twice if she was in pain and frightened - she blinked twice.

“Although she would possibly never have fully recovered from the stroke, one doctors’ mistake meant my mum suffered a distressing end to her life.

“As a result of my mother’s death, North Tees and Hartlepool Hospital Trust have now implemented training for junior doctors so that they are competent in interpreting the x-rays of naso gastric tube placement. Hopefully no one else will ever die in this way again and no other family will have to suffer what we have had to.”

Following the verdict, the Coroner said: “The University of North Tees Hospital failed to have a system to check whether the doctors concerned had the appropriate competency in interpreting the placement of naso-gastric tubes by x-ray. Also at that time, the hospital did not provide to the relevant doctors formal training on x-ray interpretation on the placement of naso-gastric tubes.”