Trust apologises over patient death


Mark Ullyatt, 40, died after nursing staff fed him a small amount of food and fluids

A hospital trust has apologised to a family after a “nil by mouth” patient developed pneumonia and died after he was given sponge pudding and custard.

Mark Ullyatt died after nursing staff at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield fed him a small amount of food and fluids, which got into his lung and caused him to develop pneumonia.

Mr Ullyatt, from Sheffield, had been recovering from surgery and was strictly to be kept nil by mouth, meaning he should not have been given any food or fluids orally.

The 40-year-old was paralysed from the waist down after suffering spina bifida and traumatic paraplegia following a road accident when he was eight. He was admitted to the hospital for surgery on February 5, 2008 and had recovered well after a “routine” operation to remove his bladder and prostate gland.

Four days later he was given sponge pudding and custard and some fluids, possibly soup or water, by a nurse at the hospital, which got into his lung and caused him to vomit. He then developed aspiration pneumonia and died in the intensive care unit.

A law firm negotiated an out-of-court settlement from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Ullyatt’s sister, Michelle Hilley, said: “The whole family was devastated by Mark’s death. Throughout his life he always faced difficulties as a result of the road accident but he was a fighter and was really well spirited.

“We have been very patient and have waited for more than two years for the trust to acknowledge that it made mistakes while caring for Mark. We only hope that things change so that no-one else has to go through what Mark did and what our family has.”

Professor Mike Richmond, medical director at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said a full review was carried out to “establish if lessons could be learned or changes made”.

“I would like to offer our sincerest apologies to Mr Ullyatt’s family although I know this in no way lessens the terrible loss they have suffered,” he added.

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