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Hospital Healthcare Europe

Probe into stroke patient’s death

21 May, 2008  

A police investigation has been launched into the death of a woman who had a feeding tube wrongly inserted into her lung instead of her stomach.

Muriel Elliott suffered a stroke following heart bypass surgery at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, Devon, and a nurse inserted a nasal gastric tube before she was transferred to the Acute Stroke Unit.

Despite the tube being checked by a doctor the error was not spotted and Mrs Elliott died 13 days later.

A leaked report prepared by the Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust legal unit states that an internal investigation was unable to identify the doctor who wrongly said the tube was placed in the correct position.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said: “The matter has only recently come to the attention of the police and inquiries are at an early stage.”

An inquest into Mrs Elliott’s death has been opened and adjourned and is expected to resume after the police investigation.

A spokesperson for Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust said: “This case has been subject to a full investigation within the trust and the results and recommendations of that investigation have been shared with the coroner.”

Mrs Elliott’s son-in-law said the situation was “absolutely incredible”. “If you take it to its conclusion, we say Derriford does not know who the doctor was that made a clinical decision that resulted in a death,” said Brian Gerrish.

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Derriford Hospital