Hong Kong Student Nurse Blunder Led To Patient’s Death

August 29, 2018 – A nursing student violated protocol by performing tracheal suction without supervision, leading to the death of a 61-year-old patient, Tuen Mun Hospital said.

In a statement issued on Monday, the public hospital said the medical incident has been reported to the Hospital Authority and an investigation will be launched, hk01.com reports.

On Aug. 4, a nursing student working in the surgical ward of the hospital tried to perform a tracheal suction on the male patient, who had a temporary tracheostomy, after learning that he was feeling discomfort because of sputum retention, according to the statement.

A tracheostomy is an incision on the frontal area of the neck. A tracheal suction involves providing an artificial airway to optimize the patient’s respiratory function.

According to the protocol set by the Hospital Authority, supervision and guidance must be provided when a nursing student is performing tracheostomy suction on patients.

The student’s effort ended in vain, and the patient started to vomit. The small amount of his discharge was found to be blood-stained.

The student then sought assistance from a duty nurse, who together with other nurses in the ward took over the procedure to support the patient.

However, the patient’s condition continued to deteriorate. His tracheostomy tube was also found displaced.

Two duty doctors arrived in the ward soon. They started airway management and resuscitation for the patient.

But in the process, the patient developed cardiac arrest, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation was initiated immediately. The patient resumed circulation after about 30 minutes.

He was then transferred to the intensive care unit for further management.  However, the patient’s condition deteriorated further and he died on Saturday.

Admitting that the student nurse failed to strictly observe the protocol, the hospital apologized to the relatives of the deceased and expressed its condolences.

The hospital reminded its ward management staff to strictly follow the protocol, and that supervision and guidance should be given to nursing students when special nursing care procedures are being performed.

The case has been referred to the coroner for follow-up.

It is understood that the student nurse, who had worked at the hospital as an intern for some time, has left the hospital.