Grandmother dies following hospital’s use of banned test

Posted by John White on

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The family of a pensioner who died in hospital after a feeding tube was mistakenly placed in her lungs will be looking for answers at an inquest to be held on Wednesday (January 8).

Grandmother Andriana Georgiou, 84, died at Homerton University Hospital in Hackney, east London, on December 15, 2012, where she had been admitted after a stroke.  A feeding tube had been wrongly placed in her lungs - a mistake listed as a “never event” by the NHS, which means precautions should be in place to make sure it never happens.

Dr John White, specialist clinical negligence lawyer and partner, will be representing the family at an inquest into Mrs Georgiou’s death at Poplar Coroner’s court on Wednesday, beginning at 9.30am.  Dr White said: “Feeding a patient down a tube misplaced in to the lungs is a so-called ‘never event’ which means an event that the NHS says it has resolved to prevent ever from occurring by having proper precautions in place.

“Yet just such an event has happened here. Quite understandably the family are looking for answers as to how this could happen and lead to Mrs Georgiou’s death.”

Mrs Georgiou, who lived with her daughter and granddaughter in Tottenham, north London, had suffered from dementia for about two years prior to her death. She was admitted to Homerton in November 2012 to be treated by its specialist stroke unit.  As she could not feed herself, a naso-gastric feeding tube was used to give her nutrition. The hospital used a procedure known as the “whoosh test” – where air is syringed into the tube and a stethoscope used to listen to air flow to determine whether the tube is correctly positioned.

The Homerton Hospital’s policy expressly banned the use of that test, and the National Patient Safety Agency issued a Patient Safety Alert in 2005 that the procedure should not be used.

The feeding tube was inserted into one of Mrs Georgiou’s lungs instead of into her stomach, causing her to develop pneumonia. She died 11 days later, on December 15. 

Although the hospital has apologised to Mrs Georgiou’s relatives, the family is now seeking to ensure the mistake is never repeated. Mrs Georgiou’s daughter Christa said: "I knew my mother was ill, but when the hospital first realised their mistake, I had started to think that she would survive after all.

“She was a strong woman - she tried to open her eyes and I thought 'she will fight, she will survive'. I knew she was old and ill but she could have lived longer if the hospital had not made this error."

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About the Author

Doctor and Solicitor Advocate John White leads the Clinical Negligence team. His medical background gives him a unique perspective and he has an excellent track record of achieving success for clients.

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