Patient died after food mistake in hospital

MAN DIED AFTER HOSPITAL ERROR CAUSED PNEUMONIA. Mark Ullyatt
MAN DIED AFTER HOSPITAL ERROR CAUSED PNEUMONIA. Mark Ullyatt

A SHEFFIELD family spoke this week of their devastation at the death in hospital of 40-year-old Mark Ullyatt after he was wrongly given food against strict instructions.

Staff at the Northern General fed Mr Ullyatt a small amount of food and water, which got into his lung and caused him to develop pneumonia.

He had been recovering from surgery to remove his bladder and prostate gland and was to be kept ‘nil by mouth’, meaning he should not have been given any food or fluids orally.

After an out-of-court settlement with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Mr Ullyatt’s sister, Michelle Hilley, said the whole family was “devastated” by the death of Mr Ullyatt, who was paralysed from the waist down after suffering spina bifida and traumatic paraplegia following a traffic accident when he was eight.

“Throughout his life he always faced difficulties as a result of the road accident but he was a fighter and was really well spirited,” she said.

“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.”

Medical law experts at Sheffield law firm Irwin Mitchell are urging hospital managers to learn from “basic and avoidable” mistakes which led to Mr Ullyatt being wrongly given food and his death in February 2008.

Anna Manning said: “This is an extremely sad case as Mr Ullyatt was making a good recovery after surgery until the error in feeding him and providing him with fluid by mouth.

“Nothing can ever be done to turn back the clock, but we welcome the hospital’s decision to acknowledge that mistakes were made in Mark’s care and to provide the family with a letter of apology.”

Prof Mike Richmond, medical director at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We always strive to provide the highest possible care to all our patients which is why we have carried out a full review of the care provided to Mr Ullyatt to establish if lessons could be learned or changes made to practice which would limit the chances of this set of circumstances happening again.

“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.”