Every doctor takes the Hippocratic Oath, which requires them to swear by the healing Gods that they will uphold specific ethical standards, including treating the ill to the best of their ability and protecting their privacy.
Most doctors keep their promise throughout their career, doing their best to save and improve as many lives as possible.
However, not everyone will stay true to this vow.
Recently, a 68-year-old man from Bolton, England died after a doctor mistakenly pumped cleaning detergent into his lungs instead of saline.
William Hannah was admitted at the Salford Royal Hospital when the tragic mix-up occurred. He had been under the facility's care since September 2017 after he was involved in a serious car accident.
He suffered a traumatic brain injury and multiple fractures and needed to be placed on a ventilator after his condition started to deteriorate. He also developed a lung infection, which required a bronchoscopy to help clear his lungs so he could breathe better.
Instead of using saline, the doctor accidentally performed the procedure with detergent that was given to him by an assistant, according to Hannah's family.
"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 unlabeled bottle containing detergent that they had prepared for cleaning equipment. The doctor then unknowingly used the cleaning solution to wash-out William’s lung,” the Hannah family lawyers explained in a press release.
It wasn't until the doctor went to clean the surgical equipment that he realized the deadly mistake they had made. He attempted to remove as much of the chemical as possible from the man's lungs, but it was already too late.
Hannah died the next day, 33 hours after the failed treatment.
The exact cause of his death remains under investigation, but the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust has already conducted an internal investigation.
The review concluded that Hannah "did not receive the high standard of care we always pride ourselves on delivering and we apologize unreservedly to his family for this," according to Dr. Pete Turkington, the Trust’s medical director.
He added that they have implemented new measures that will ensure an incident like this won't happen again in the future.
The investigation also found that the hospital did not stock up the proper equipment needed to successfully perform Hannah's emergency procedure, and that's what led up to the error. The bottles were mislabeled, staff were inadequately trained, and there was a lack of two-way communication, and a COSHH [Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations] risk assessment was missing.
The hospital, which is now facing legal action, has reportedly held several meetings with the Hannahs, but the victim's daughter Lisa is not satisfied with their efforts.
"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,” she said in a statement.
Shocked and angry, Lisa emphasized that their dad "didn't deserve to have this happen to him," so they're going "to ensure that no other families suffer as we have."
Hannah's family are going ahead with the malpractice lawsuit “to hold the hospital trust to account and to ensure lessons are learned."