Five-figure payout over death of pensioner who drank bottle of hospital hand sanitiser

John Haughey Credit:

The family of an elderly patient who died after drinking a bottle of hand sanitiser at Hull Royal Infirmary have won a five-figure compensation payout.

John Haughey, 76, who was being treated following a chest infection and after becoming confused and forgetful at home, consumed 500ml of the liquid, which was 75 per cent alcohol – the equivalent of a litre of gin.

He developed bronchopneumonia as a result of alcohol poisoning.

An investigation has found staff failed to take appropriate action following the incident, which led to his death a few days later.

A limit on the amount of sanitiser such bottles can dispense and new protocols for medical professionals are now being considered as a result of the incident.

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust admitted breaching its duty of care and has now agreed an undisclosed damages settlement with the family.

But Mr Haughey's daughter Diane Atkin criticised their response to the incident. She said: “It has been a disgrace from start to finish we were kept in the dark with very little information by the trust over what had happened to my father, how it had ever been allowed to happen and the failings in treatment after he had swallowed the gel."

She added: “What hurt us more though was the fact that we were shown no respect as a family and my father suffered from such poor care. He went into hospital for his safety, rapidly went downhill and never came out."

Solicitor Michelle Tebbutt, who represented the family, said: “This is a truly tragic case which has highlighted many areas of concern with regards to safety on hospital wards of confused patients."

Mike Wright, executive chief nurse for Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, apologised to the family and added: "Whilst acknowledging that the standard of care provided did not meet that which the trust strives to achieve, we hope Mr Haughey's family take comfort from knowing that subsequent actions taken by the trust have been robust, and that the coroner is satisfied that those actions will prevent similar incidents."

Since Mr Haughey’s death, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust has introduced lockable wall mounted dispensers and issued staff with mini bottles of hand wash.