Grandfather killed after hospital error leads to lungs being filled with laundry detergent

William Hannah. Image via People magazine.
William Hannah. Image via People magazine.

A grandfather from the U.K. has died after an alleged hospital mix-up lead to his lungs being filled with cleaning detergent instead of saline.

According to lawyers, Bruce Hannah was taken to hospital in September 2017 after being in a car accident, and was being treated for a head injury and multiple fractures. During treatment, the 68-year-old developed a lung infection, and required a saline flush to clear his impaired lung.

Although a common procedure, Hannah’s family are suing Salford Royal Hospital after it’s believed that a doctor’s assistant accidentally injected him with cleaning detergent, instead of saline.

The doctor noticed the error when it was time to clean the surgical equipment following the procedure.

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In a press release, lawyers for the Hannah family described the incident.

During the procedure the doctor found there was no saline solution in the equipment trolley and so asked a healthcare assistant to pass this to him. However, the assistant became confused and instead of providing the doctor with the requested saline, accidentally handed him an unlabelled bottle containing detergent that they had prepared for cleaning equipment,” stated the release. “The doctor then unknowingly used the cleaning solution to wash-out William’s lung.”

Image via Getty Images.
Image via Getty Images.

By the time staff realized the error, there had been extensive damage done to Hannah’s lungs. The hospital tried to remove as much detergent from his lungs, but he died the next day.

After an internal investigation into Hannah’s death, the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust concluded that the hospital did not deliver the “high standard of care” and offered its apologies to the family. A spokesperson for the Trust said the hospital has taken measures to ensure similar mistakes are prevented in the future.

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Hannah’s death will be examined again in February 2019 as part of a larger inquiry.

However, according to Hannah’s daughter Lisa, not enough has been done in the case of her father’s wrongful death.

Unfortunately, we do not feel that the Trust has treated us with the compassion and respect we would have expected during the course of the investigation. This has added to the distress and upset we as a family have experienced during such a difficult time,” she said in a statement. “Our dad didn’t deserve to have this happen to him and that’s why we are trying to ensure that no other families suffer as we have. It took an inordinate amount of resilience and time to receive answers from the hospital and we do not want any other family to have to work so hard in future.”

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