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Misplaced tube contributed to first UK child Covid death, coroner rules

A misplaced medical tube contributed to the death of the first child in the UK to die after contracting Covid, a coroner has found.

Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, 13, of Brixton, south London, died of acute respiratory distress syndrome, caused by Covid-19 pneumonia, on 30 March 2020, three days after testing positive for coronavirus. He had a cardiac arrest before he died.

Ismail’s death prompted widespread alarm about the potentially lethal impact of Covid on children.

Hours before Ismail died, an endotracheal tube (ET) used to help patients breathe was found to be in the wrong position. A consultant in paediatric intensive care decided to leave it and monitor him.

Giving his judgment on Thursday, senior coroner Andrew Harris said: “I am satisfied that he [Ismail] would not have died when he did were it not for the tube misplacement.”

On Wednesday, the inquest at London Inner South London coroner’s court heard evidence from Dr Tushar Vince, a consultant in paediatric intensive care at King’s College hospital who treated Ismail on 29 March after he had been intubated.

Asked by Harris if it would be reasonable to put the positioning of the ET on the death certificate as one of the causes, Dr Vince said: “I think it would be reasonable to consider it, yes.”

She said: “I was so focused on the lungs I just didn’t see how high this tube was and I’m so sorry that I didn’t see it.”

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Source: The Guardian, 2 March 2023


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