United Kingdom

Retired NHS worker suffered a 'slow' death after medics accidentally put a feeding tube in her lung

Maura Irwin, 77, from New Cross, southeast London, suffered a 'slow' death after medics failed to notice they accidentally put a feeding tube into her lung for 10 hours,

A retired ambulance worker suffered a 'slow and painful' death after medics failed to notice they accidentally put a feeding tube into her lung for more than 10 hours, an inquest has heard.

Maura Irwin, 77, from New Cross, southeast London, had the nasal feeding tube misplaced into her lung after suffering a stroke in February 2018, which then filled up and killed her, an inquest heard.

Her daughter Kathryn Scully, from Lincoln, said her family were forced to watch her 'slow and painful death' as a result of the 'betrayal' by NHS staff.

A coroner said Ms Irwin died from injury caused by the 'undetected misplaced nasrogastric tube', adding that the failure to check the tube contributed to her death.

Ms Irwin, who worked for the NHS ambulance service for 25 years, was admitted to Kings College Hospital in February 2018 after suffering a debilitating stroke.

The feeding tube was wrongly misplaced into her lung two days after she was admitted and caused her death three weeks later.

Mrs Scully, 59, from, told the inquest: 'Mum was a wonderful, independent and passionate woman who was loved deeply by her family.

'There isn't a day that goes by that we don't miss her.

'Mum loved her job with the NHS where she worked for 25 years, staying way beyond retirement age to care for others, but she was cruelly let down by the service with the ultimate betrayal.

Ms Irwin (pictured), who worked for the NHS ambulance service for 25 years, had the tube misplaced into her lung after suffering a stroke in February 2018, an inquest heard

'Medics misplaced the nasal feeding tube into her lung resulting in food filling up her lung and drowning her.

'It was like watching somebody getting smothered and being powerless to stop it.

'As a family we had to witness her dying a slow and painful death as she could not breath properly and was in agony.

'No patient in the care of any medics nor family should ever have to experience such a horrendous ordeal.'

Recording a narrative verdict, Coroner Andrew Harris said Ms Irwin's death was from 'unintended consequences of necessary medical treatment and subsequent omissions in care'.

He concluded: 'She died from injury caused by feeding through an undetected misplaced nasrogastric tube for more than ten hours.

Her daughter Kathryn Scully, from Lincoln, said her family were forced to watch Ms Irwin's (pictured) 'slow and painful death' as a result of the 'betrayal' by NHS staff

'The failure to check the position of the tube after the second desaturation or ensure she received timely medical assessment then contributed to her death. 

The trust has apologised for Ms Irwin's death, but Mrs Scully, represented by London law firm Osbornes Law, said her family is 'tired' of the NHS saying they are sorry as 'those words don't mean anything without actions'.

She added: 'There was a catalogue of failings in mum's care and we want to know that the trust made the necessary changes to make sure what happened to mum never happens to anybody else.'

Nicholas Leahy, a specialist medical negligence solicitor from Osbornes Law, said: 'Maura gave 25 years of her working life to the NHS but in her time of need they failed her.

A coroner said Ms Irwin (pictured) died from injury caused by the 'undetected misplaced nasrogastric tube', adding that the failure to check the tube contributed to her death

'The trust identified 18 separate actions that would be implemented after Maura's death, but her family now need to know what has been done to make sure another person does not die in the same painful way as her.

'Only then will they feel that her avoidable death wasn't in vain.

'The coroner found that feeding through the misplaced nasogastric tube together with the failure to identify this for over ten hours directly contributed to Maura's death.

'The trust must work hard to ensure that the omissions in care which were identified in this case must never happen again.'

A Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson told MailOnline: 'The care provided to Mrs Irwin was far below our expected standards, and we offer our heartfelt apologies to her family.

'We have learnt lessons from what happened, and implemented all of the actions arising from the investigation. We also continue to monitor our NG tube practices to minimise the likelihood of this happening to other patients.'

In 2019, a spokesperson told i newspaper: 'We sincerely apologise to Mrs Irwin's family for the incident at King's, which fell short of the standards we set ourselves.  

'Following the incident we carried out a full investigation which identified areas of improvement to our practices to enhance the safety of patients in our care.

'We have implemented a number of changes and have met with Mrs Irwin's family to share our findings with them.' 

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