It Was a Routine Surgery. Then a Nurse Flipped a Switch

Private hospital in London is found negligent in banker's death
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2016 4:15 PM CDT
Updated Oct 29, 2016 10:59 AM CDT
It Was a Routine Surgery. Then a Nurse Flipped a Switch
An endotracheal tube is shown.   (Getty Images / sudok1)

An inquest has blamed the death of an American banker who underwent a routine heart valve operation in Britain on a nurse's mistaken move, reports the Telegraph. Robert Entenman died in 2015 at age 57 at one of Britain's biggest private hospitals, London Bridge. The American, who left the US in the early '80s and worked at major investment banks throughout Europe, had mitral valve disease, type 2 diabetes, and a high BMI of 42, but he had been expected to recover from the procedure. Having been on a ventilator for a week following surgery, Entenman went into cardiac arrest and suffered from a lack of oxygen to his brain after his endotracheal tube became clogged with mucus. Last week, an inquest found that his death was the result of the hospital's neglect, reports the Sun.

The surgeon told the court he'd put the probability of successful heart valve repair at 99%, and that days after the operation his patient had recovered enough to shake hands, reports the Standard. But after Entenman complained about being too hot due to broken air conditioning, a nurse turned off the ventilator's humidifier, thinking it would help, the inquest was told. Unfortunately, the device helps prevent secretions from building up and has nothing to do with body temperature. It was off for 18 hours, at which point Entenman went into cardiac arrest. Hospital staff found a "dark brown solid mucus plug" depriving him of oxygen in the endotracheal tube. A CT scan revealed significant brain damage, and the father of two died days later. (Expect to get at least one serious diagnostic error in your life.)

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