November 28, 2018 02:38 PM

A grandfather from England died after doctors allegedly pumped cleaning detergent into his lungs instead of saline, due to an accidental mix-up.

William Hannah, 68, was taken to Salford Royal Hospital in Sept. 2017 after he was hit by a car. While he was being treated for a head injury and multiple fractures, Hannah developed a lung infection, and his doctor decided to do a saline flush, a common treatment to clear out the sick lung.

But according to lawyers for Hannah’s family, which is now suing the hospital, the doctor’s assistant accidentally grabbed cleaning detergent instead of saline.

“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 unlabelled 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 said in a press release shared with PEOPLE.

William Hannah
Courtesy Hannah Family

The doctor realized the error when he went to clean the surgical equipment following the procedure, and asked for the cleaning detergent. He tried to get as much of the detergent out of Hannah’s lungs as possible, but according to the lawyers his condition worsened from there, and he died the next day.

The exact cause of Hannah’s death will be part of a larger inquiry next year, but the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust has already conducted an internal investigation.

“The review of Mr. Hannah’s care at Salford Royal highlighted that he did not receive the high standard of care we always pride ourselves on delivering and we apologize unreservedly to his family for this,” Dr. Pete Turkington, the Trust’s medical director, tells PEOPLE in a statement. “We have since introduced new measures to ensure something like this will not happen again.”

“We once again offer our deepest sympathies to William Hannah’s family for the loss of their much loved family member.”

Turkington said the Trust has worked with the Hannah family throughout the investigation and has held several meetings — but Hannah’s daughter Lisa said not enough has been done.

“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. “Our dad didn’t deserve to have this happen to him and that’s why we are trying to ensure that no other families suffer as we have. It took an inordinate amount of resilience and time to receive answers from the hospital and we do not want any other family to have to work so hard in future.”

The Hannah family is suing “to hold the hospital trust to account and to ensure lessons are learned,” and hearings will begin in Feb. 2019.

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