'Unbelievable Mistake' in Treating Man's Lung Leads to Suit

Family of the late William Hannah suing UK hospital after lung was washed with detergent
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2018 8:15 AM CST
Doctor Went to Wash a Lung With Saline. He Used Detergent
Cleaning products on display at a Whole Foods in Washington on Oct. 9, 2014.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

A UK hospital made an "appalling" error right before a 68-year-old died there, says his daughter, and now she and her family are suing the hospital for it. William Hannah passed away in September 2017 at Salford Royal Hospital while being treated after a car accident that had left him with several broken bones and serious head injuries, the BBC reports. Hannah also developed a lung infection, and it was while trying to ease his breathing that hospital staff made the mistake that has spurred the Hannah family's complaint. Per a release from their lawyers, a doctor went to flush out one of Hannah's lungs with saline solution, but an assistant accidentally passed him a bottle of cleaning detergent instead, which the doctor then "unknowingly" used to rinse Hannah's lung, People reports.

The doctor realized the mistake afterward and tried to get as much of the detergent out of Hannah's lung as he could, but Hannah's lawyers say the grandfather's condition deteriorated and he died the next day. In a statement to People, the hospital's medical director acknowledges that Hannah "did not receive the high standard of care we always pride ourselves on." The BBC cites an internal hospital report that found what happened to Hannah was due to various factors, including poor communication and staff training, a container without a label, an equipment cart that wasn't adequately stocked, and "distraction by other life critical tasks." An inquiry into the exact cause of Hannah's death will take place in early 2019. (Glenn Frey's widow says Mount Sinai caused his death.)

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