The Daily Telegraph

Mother, 32, dies after trainee doctor’s breathing tube blunder

- By Daily Telegraph Reporter

A MOTHER died after a trainee anaestheti­st wrongly inserted a breathing tube into her oesophagus, an inquest heard yesterday.

Emma Currell, 32, had been rushed to Watford General Hospital when she suffered a seizure in an ambulance taking her home from dialysis treatment in September 2020.

The inquest in Hatfield heard that Ms Currell, who lived with nephrotic syndrome, suffered a second seizure as she waited to be seen in the accident and emergency department. An anaestheti­c team was called to sedate her. But a tube that should have been placed in her trachea (the windpipe) to allow her to breathe was mistakenly placed in her oesophagus (the food pipe). The mother of a six-year-old, who lived in Hatfield, went into cardiac arrest and died that night on Sept 5 2020.

Dr Sabu Syed, who was a trainee anaestheti­st, told the hearing that she believed she inserted the tube into the trachea, but now knows it was the oesophagus, adding that the patient’s tongue was so swollen it was hard to get a good view.

Dr Syed said she asked her senior colleague, Dr Prasun Mukherjee, to check the position of the tube, but Dr Mukherjee was busy doing other tasks.

Nicholas Healey, a technician, said both he and Dr Syed had raised concerns about the tube being in the wrong place. Dr Mukherjee told the hearing: “I had confidence in my colleague that the tube was appropriat­ely placed.“

Graham Danbury, the deputy coroner for Hertfordsh­ire, asked him: “Did you, with greater experience, consider that you should have done the administra­tion?” He replied: “It is difficult.” He said younger colleagues needed to gain more experience.

Dr Mukherjee said he still detected breathing after the tube was inserted and had assumed the readings on the machine being used had malfunctio­ned and there was a problem with the monitor. He said he was also concerned about the risks of removing the tube and the danger of surgery.

Asked if it had crossed his mind to summon a more senior colleague, he said: “I probably did not have enough time to ask for external help.”

He said: “Retrospect­ively and with hindsight we know the tube was in the wrong place.” The inquest continues.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom