Man suffered brain damage after breathing tube ‘wrongly inserted’ during routine knee surgery at Hinchingbrooke Hospital

PUBLISHED: 19:34 16 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:10 17 October 2017

The hearing is taking place at Huntingdon Town Hall.

The hearing is taking place at Huntingdon Town Hall.


An inquest into the death of a Somersham man who suffered irreversible brain damage while undergoing a routine knee operation at Hinchingbrooke Hospital has opened today (Monday) at Huntingdon Town Hall.

An inquest into the death of a Somersham man who suffered irreversible brain damage while undergoing a routine knee operation at Hinchingbrooke Hospital has opened today (Monday) at Huntingdon Town Hall.

The hearing was told that retired farmer Peter Saint, of The Bank, died on June 28, 2016, five days after a breathing tube was wrongly inserted into his oesophagus instead of his trachea.

The surgery was abandoned when the 71-year-old began to vomit and his oxygen saturation levels dropped dramatically.

Mr Saint, was taken to theatre at 2.30pm on June 23 and the inquest heard that although he was described as obese, he played cricket regularly and was considered to be “fit and healthy” and had lost some weight prior to his surgery.

On the first day of the hearing, which is expected to last for five days, assistant coroner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Sean Horstead, read a statement from Mr Saint’s younger brother, Bruce, who said he was “angry and saddened” by his brother’s death.

“We want to take steps to make sure this does not happen again,” he said in his statement.

Senior operating department practitioner, Alison Glass-Parker. who was assisting the anaesthetist during the surgery, told the inquest that inserting the breathing tube had been difficult due to Mr Saint’s size. She did not carry out the procedure and only became aware of a problem when Mr Saint began to vomit brown bile.

Mrs Glass-Parker said she noticed Mr Saint’s pallor, which was grey. and the machine measuring his saturations showed a trace line that was in decline.

“It all happened so quickly,” she said.

“We were concerned we were losing the airway and he was not breathing properly.”

Mr Saint continued to deteriorate and then went into cardiac arrest and it was only when other staff were called upon to help that it was discovered the tube has been inserted incorrectly.

As a result of being deprived of oxygen for about 20 minutes, Mr Saint suffered massive brain damage and never recovered. He was taken to the hospital’s critical care unit, but he died after his family agreed some of his organs, skin and eyes could be donated to help others.

A post mortem examination showed he died from hypoxic, ischemic brain injury following a cardiac arrest.

The hearing continues.


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