Man who cannot digest food says hospital denying him chance to make ‘informed choice’ on treatment

PUBLISHED: 06:00 14 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:25 14 March 2018

Frederick Smith at his home in Brundall. Picture: Ian Burt

Frederick Smith at his home in Brundall. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

A Brundall man who cannot eat without vomiting claims a hospital is denying him the opportunity to make an informed choice about his treatment.

Frederick Smith at his home in Brundall. Picture: Ian BurtFrederick Smith at his home in Brundall. Picture: Ian Burt

Former nightclub manager Frederick Smith suffers from autonomic neuropathy, which has left him unable to digest food properly in his stomach.

The 55-year-old instead has to get his nutrients through a feeding tube which is connected to his stomach and intestine.

However, the device has failed twice in four months, causing him to vomit up the tube and “inhale” his stomach contents.

Mr Smith, who also suffers from Type 1 diabetes, says he no longer wants the same device fitted and instead wants to explore other options.

But he claims the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) is not giving him the chance.

He said: “I want the hospital to realise that I have already had problems with this device on two occasions and I don’t want this again.

“I don’t want a device that will blow out when my carers use it.”

Mr Smith said the tube, called the Freka Peg-J was first fitted in June last year at the James Paget Hospital. But in August, it suffered a malfunction while he was at home.

“It caused me to regurgitate and aspirate, which means my stomach contents went into my lungs,” Mr Smith said.

The device was refitted at the NNUH later in August, but it failed again in December.

Mr Smith later received an email from the hospital stating that Fresenius Kabi, which makes the tube, had identified a possible issue with device.

Despite this, Mr Smith, who requires constant care, claimed his consultant at the hospital is “insistent on having the same device.”

“I want doctors to explain to patients about other devices on the market and let them make an informed choice,” he said.

An NNUH spokesman said staff had spoken with Mr Smith “at length” in regard to his concerns.

The hospital said decisions on the tubes recommended are based on multiple factors, including the patient’s clinical status.

It said patients are able to make an informed choice about the type of tube they would like.

Mr Smith was due to see a consultant gastroenterologists today, but he claims that appointment has since been cancelled.

Hospital and Fresenius Kabi response

A spokesman for the NNUH said: “All patients are seen in clinic and counselled in relation to the risks as well as the benefits of each option they have.

“This allows patients to make an informed choice about the type of tube they would like to have inserted.

“We have spoken with Mr Smith at length in regards to his concerns about his percutaneous endoscopic transgastric jejunostomy (PEG-J) feeding tube.”

A spokesman for Fresenius Kabi, which makes the tube, said it takes complaints “very seriously”.

The spokesman said: “On the 15th November, 2017, we issued a precautionary field safety notice to all of our healthcare professional customers notifying them that we had received feedback on cases where the intestinal tube had become detached from the metal pin of the ENFIT connector.”

They said the notice outlined recommendations regarding instructions for use.

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