Nan who spent 25 years working for NHS died after feeding tube inserted in lungs

A grandmother who worked for the NHS ambulance service for 25 years died after medics accidentally put a feeding tube into her lungs, an inquest heard.

Maura Irwin, 77, had the nasal feeding tube misplaced into her lung after suffering a debilitating stroke, which then filled up and killed her.

Her daughter Kathryn Scully said her family had to watch her endure a "slow and painful death" as a result of the "betrayal" by NHS staff.

Mrs Scully, 59, from Lincoln, said: "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.

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

Maura, who lived in New Cross, South East London, was admitted to Kings College Hospital in February 2018 after suffering a debilitating stroke.

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The feeding tube was wrongly placed into her lung two days after she was admitted.

Staff did not check if the feeding tube was in place for more than ten hours, ultimately resulting in her death.

Recording a narrative verdict, Coroner Andrew Harris concluded: "She died from injury caused by feeding through an undetected misplaced nasogastric tube for more than ten hours.

"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.

"This was a death from unintended consequences of necessary medical treatment and subsequent omissions in care."

Mrs Scully added: "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."

The trust has apologised for Maura's death, but Mrs Scully, represented by London law firm Osbornes Law, said they are “tired of the NHS saying they are sorry for our loss” without action being taken.

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.

"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."

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