Investigation launched after cleaning detergent accidentally used on grandfather’s lungs in Salford Royal Hospital’s critical care unit

29 November 2018

The family of a grandfather who had his lungs accidentally washed out with cleaning detergent due to an error by healthcare assistant, who had not received formal training in the procedure, said lessons have to be learned as an investigation into his death was launched by lawyers.

William Hannah, a 68-year-old father-of-two and grandfather-of-three from Bolton, was taken to Salford Royal Hospital in September 2017 after being hit by a car. William had suffered a head injury and multiple fractures and was admitted to the hospital’s critical care unit. During his admission, William developed a lung infection and required a lung wash-out with saline to improve his breathing.

During the procedure the doctor found there was no saline solution in the equipment trolley and so asked a healthcare assistant to pass this to him. However, the assistant became confused and instead of providing the doctor with the requested saline, accidentally handed him an unlabelled bottle containing detergent that they had prepared for cleaning equipment. The doctor then unknowingly used the cleaning solution to wash-out William’s lung.

At the end of the procedure the doctor requested the cleaning solution to clean the surgical equipment and was informed by the healthcare assistant that it had been used in the lung wash-out. On realising the error the doctor immediately tried to remove as much of the detergent from William’s lung as possible.

William’s condition deteriorated and he died the following day. An investigation has now been launched by clinical negligence specialists JMW who have been instructed by William’s family to determine what role the incident played in William’s death, to hold the hospital trust to account and to ensure lessons are learned.

The hospital trust conducted an internal investigation and has produced its own serious incident report which criticises the care provided to William and lists poor communication and lack of formal training as key reasons behind the error.

Lisa Hannah, William’s daughter, aged 44, who lives in Whitefield, said the mistake has had a devastating impact on the family who had thought William would receive the best possible care following the accident but had been left feeling shocked, angry and let down.

She said: “This is supposed to be an outstanding hospital but this was an appalling and unbelievable mistake.

“Unfortunately, we do not feel that the trust has treated us with the compassion and respect we would have expected during the course of the investigation. This has added to the distress and upset we as a family have experienced during such a difficult time. Our dad didn’t deserve to have this happen to him and that’s why we are trying to ensure that no other families suffer as we have. It took an inordinate amount of resilience and time to receive answers from the hospital and we do not want any other family to have to work so hard in future.

“Our dad was a character and well-loved, not just by us but by many people in the Manchester community due to his tenure of some of Manchester’s most iconic venues, including Blinkers French, Parkers Hotel, the Dominion Hotel and La Gitane.”

Eddie Jones, head of clinical negligence at law firm JMW, who are investigating the care provided to William in the run-up to his death, said:

“This incident has been very traumatic for William’s family who have not only had to deal with his death but also these appalling circumstances. Their grief has been compounded by this terrible error and they understandably would like to know how something so shocking and avoidable could occur at one of Manchester’s biggest hospitals.

“The case raises significant concerns and it is clear that steps need to be taken to ensure that all staff at Salford Royal Hospital receive appropriate training to safeguard patient safety. During the course of our investigation we will be aiming to find out what the trust has done to ensure that this type of incident does not happen again.”

An inquest into William’s death is due to take place from 11 – 13 February at Bolton Coroner’s Court.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Kelly Hindle or Samantha Meakin on the details below:

Kelly Hindle

D. 0161 828 1868


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