'I've killed him': Crying nurse's confession after ignoring 'nil by mouth' sign and feeding tablet to patient who choked to deathKirsten May gave Norman Betchley pill despite 'nil by mouth' sign over bed
Betchley, 81, was in hospital with breathing issues being fed through tubes She realised mistake and ran to a laundry cupboard crying: 'It's my fault'
15:03 GMT, 14 December 2012
Frail: Agency nurse Kirsten May gave Norman Betchley (pictured) the tablet even though an A5 sign above his head stated 'nil by mouth'
A nurse ran through a hospital ward crying 'I've killed him' after feeding a frail patient a pill moments before he choked and died, an inquest heard today.
Agency nurse Kirsten May gave Norman Betchley the tablet even though an A5 sign above his head stated 'nil by mouth', Chelmsford Coroners Court heard.
Mr Betchley, 81, had been admitted to Colchester General Hospital, Colchester, Essex, two months earlier after suffering breathing difficulties.
He was being fed either through his nose or by a PEG feeding tube into his stomach.
Although Mr Betchley had shown signs of improvement, he had been placed on the Liverpool Pathway, which dictates patients should not be resuscitated.
But he died shortly after 8am on April 9 after he was given a tablet to take with a glass of water.
Det Ch Supt Liam Osborne, deputy head of the serious crime directorate for Kent and Essex, conducted an investigation into the father of two's death.
Giving evidence at an inquest into Mr Betchley's death in Chelmsford, Essex, yesterday, Detective Chief Superintendent Liam Osborne said nurse May had immediately realised her mistake and ran to a laundry cupboard crying: 'It's my fault, I killed him.'
Nurse May had also claimed she had not been told during the morning handover Mr Betchley was nil by mouth.
But Det Ch Supt Osborne's investigation found the nine members of staff, which included nurse May, had been briefed properly.
He told the inquest how when Mrs May was shown his medical chart, she said: 'It clearly says PEG, it's all my fault. I'm to blame.'
In patient: Mr Betchley, 81, had been admitted to Colchester General Hospital (pictured), in Essex, two months earlier after suffering breathing difficulties
During his manslaughter investigation, Det Ch Supt Osborne found neither nurse May nor Colchester General Hospital had a case to answer.
He added: 'It was a terrible mistake which resulted in fatal consequences.'
A subsequent hospital investigation found Nurse May, an agency nurse with NHS Professionals and a registered nurse since 1988, had failed to carry out the required checks on how to administer the drug.
She was suspended immediately after Mr Betchley's death.
Mr Betchley, from Fingringhoe, had been admitted to Birch ward, in Colchester General hospital on February 10, 2009 after suffering breathing difficulties.
Two post mortem examinations found Mr Betchley's cause of death to be lung disease caused by exposure to asbestos.
Coroner Tina Harrington is expected to deliver a verdict in January.