Dad died after routine hospital procedure

John McConkey, pictured at a family event in 2014.
John McConkey, pictured at a family event in 2014.

A dad-of-four died from a brain injury after a routine hospital procedure, an inquest heard.

John McConkey, originally from Jarrow, died at Sunderland Royal Hospital on August 15 last year, when his airway collapsed after staff changed the tracheotomy tube he had been fitted with.

The 68-year-old had been admitted to the hospital after collapsing and being diagnosed with pneumonia.

The hearing was told his condition deteriorated after staff changed his tracheotomy tube to a smaller one to make him more comfortable.

His airway collapsed and he went into cardiac arrest. T

A lack of oxygen meant he suffered a brain injury, and his ventilator was switched off.

Leon Lindsey, a consultant ear, nose and throat surgeon at Sunderland Royal, fitted Mr McConkey with the smaller tube after an assessment indicated he was breathing better through his mouth and a smaller tube would to allow more air go through.

He told the hearing at Sunderland Coroner’s Court that he was surprised changing the size of the tube had such a major effect.

He said: “We changed the tube. Everything seemed to be OK. The tube seemed to make things better.”

Coroner Karin Welsh said the tracheotomy tube change, combined with Mr McConkey’s pre-existing medical conditions – respiratory difficulties and thyroid problems – combined to cause his death.

She said: “I am recording a verdict of a hypoxic brain injury caused by an airway collapse following a tracheotomy tube change.

“Although it was a standard procedure, Mr McConkey was not a standard patient by virtue of his pre-existing condition.”

Mr McConkey’s daughter Sharon Sugden, of Leam Lane Estate, Gateshead, where her father also lived, said: “We are happy with what the coroner has said, but it just answered what we knew.”