Hong Kong health care and hospitals

Hong Kong hospital apologises for patient’s death after student nurse performed unsupervised procedure

Elderly man died after the student attempted tracheal suction on the patient, who later suffered a cardiac arrest

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2018, 7:33am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2018, 8:49am

A Hong Kong hospital apologised for failing to follow protocol after the death of an elderly patient, upon whom a nursing student performed a medical procedure without supervision or guidance early this month.

Tuen Mun Hospital released a statement on Monday night on the incident, which happened about three weeks ago, and expressed deep condolences to the relatives of the deceased patient.

On August 4, a nursing student in a surgical ward tried to perform tracheal suction for the 61-year-old man with a temporary tracheostomy after learning that he was uncomfortable and had sputum retention.

According to the hospital, the student’s attempt was in vain, and the patient was found to have a small amount of blood-stained vomit. The student asked for immediate help from a duty nurse who, with other nurses, took over the procedure.

“The condition of the patient kept deteriorating and the patient’s tracheostomy tube was also found displaced,” the hospital spokesman said.

Two on-duty doctors arrived and the patient developed cardiac arrest, but resumed circulation after half an hour. He was then sent to the intensive care unit but his condition deteriorated further and he died on August 25.

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The hospital said management began a preliminary investigation on August 7 by reviewing the procedure performed by the student and the patient’s symptoms.

“According to the Hospital Authority’s prevailing protocol, supervision and guidance must be provided when a nursing student is performing tracheostomy suction for patients,” the spokesman said. The case has been referred to the coroner and the Hospital Authority will launch an investigation.

In June this year, a 75-year-old end-stage renal failure patient at Tuen Mun Hospital died after a patient care assistant allegedly pushed a hard object up his rectum during a shower. An initial examination revealed the patient’s rectum had been perforated. The hospital and the patient’s family reported the case to the police, who are investigating the incident.