The family of a Tottenham pensioner who died after a feeding tube was mistakenly placed in her lungs are hoping for answers at an inquest today.
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.
Dr John White, specialist clinical negligence lawyer and partner at Blake Lapthorn solicitors, will be representing the family at an inquest into Mrs Georgiou’s death at Poplar Coroner’s court.
He said: “Feeding a patient down a tube misplaced in 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 before 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” – in which 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."
The inquest is due to take place today.