Elderly woman dies in Hong Kong hospital after feeding tube is mistakenly inserted into her lung

Tseung Kwan O Hospital apologises and launches investigation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 September, 2014, 1:25pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 June, 2018, 2:35pm

Tseung Kwan O Hospital has apologised to the family of a 92-year-old woman who died after a feeding tube was inserted into her lung instead of her stomach.

The woman, who had suffered a stroke and had dementia, was transferred to the hospital on Tuesday from the nearby Haven of Hope Hospital, which specialises in geriatric care.

A nurse inserted the tube at 4pm that day. An X-ray was also carried out. Milk was fed through the tube at noon on Wednesday; an hour later the patient began to have trouble breathing.

She was admitted to intensive care where a doctor reviewed the X-ray and discovered the error. She died just after midnight.

Louis Shih Tai-cho, president of the Medical Association, said inquiries should focus on why a doctor had initially failed to spot the mistake from the X-ray, which he said should have been easy to see. "Specialists should be reviewing an image if it is too blurry or if the stomach is overlapping the lung," he added.

"This is a serious issue," the Patients' Right Association said.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said it was investigating and a report was expected to be ready within three months. "We have explained the incident to the patient's family with our condolences and an apology," she said. "The hospital is highly concerned about the incident."

The coroner has been alerted.

Separately, another 92-year-old Haven of Hope patient with congestive heart failure and respiratory failure was found to have had his 3ml per hour intravenous dosage of dopamine set at 100ml on September 2. The error was spotted later that day and the patient was transferred to the United Christian Hospital, Kwun Tong, but died in the early hours of September 4. The case has been referred to the coroner.