Settlement for father whose feeding tube was wrongly inserted at The Royal Berkshire Hospital | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Settlement for father whose feeding tube was wrongly inserted at The Royal Berkshire Hospital

Jonathan Zimmern settled a medical negligence claim for £850,000 for a man who endured a collapsed lung and acute respiratory distress due to a wrongly inserted feeding tube following routine bowel surgery. 

He also suffered a brain injury, which has resulted in long term cognitive defects and personality changes, in addition to the respiratory problems he now lives with. 

Paul* was admitted to The Royal Berkshire Hospital with abdominal cramping and underwent emergency surgery to repair a perforated bowel that day. He required a stoma and his family were told he would be discharged within a week. 

While recovering in ICU a feeding tube was inserted through his nose and wrongly went into his upper airway rather than his stomach. The error was not detected in an X-ray and feeding started, meaning his lungs were being pumped with liquid and pureed food. 

After four hours, the Paul's respiratory function began deteriorating and he suffered a near total respiratory collapse. Over the next few hours his condition deteriorated and his wife and four children were asked to come to the hospital to say their goodbyes. 

Once the error was spotted and the tube removed, he was put into a medically induced coma and remained on a ventilator in ICU for three weeks. 

Before the incident, Paul was a healthy father of four in his sixties. He is now physically debilitated and relies on his wife and carers for assistance with everyday tasks. 

It soon became clear to his family that he had suffered cognitive deterioration during his time in hospital, which experts say could have been caused by injury from a lack of oxygen to the brain. He had been a partner in a boutique financial advisory firm and took pride in his career but after the incident he was not able to return to work. 

Paul suffered from poor concentration, poor memory, reduced confidence, lack of energy, sleep disturbance and disturbing flash backs of his time in ICU. His wife said that he is no longer the same man and does not interact with his family as he used to.

He also had to live with a stoma for eight months longer than he should have and during this time suffered a prolapse due to a hernia caused by severe coughing as a result of his ongoing poor respiratory function. 

The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust ultimately accepted that its negligent failure to detect the wrongly inserted tube resulted in the claimant suffering feeding to the lungs and subsequent damage. It also accepted that if the tube had been inserted correctly he would not have suffered a collapsed lung and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). 

Following the settlement, Paul's wife thanked Jonathan for his "incredible knowledge, skill, tact and support since that very first phone call" when her husband was on life-support. 

She added: "You and your team have been brilliant, patient, clever and – most importantly – immediately kind, throughout. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and those of my children." 

The Trust has apologised for the failings in its care.  

*name changed 

Contact us

For further information about hospital negligence claims or medical negligence claims, please call Jonathan Zimmern on 03304606779 or email


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