Care home autistic boy choked on glove

An autistic boy died after inhaling a latex glove while being cared for at a respite facility in the Republic of Ireland, an inquest heard.

Ryan Hughes, of Sycamore Drive, Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow, was found unresponsive on his bedroom floor at Brambles House, St Catherine’s Association, Newcastle, Co Wicklow, by a care worker on September 3, 2009.

During CPR, a nurse noticed something white in Ryan’s mouth and pulled a white disposable glove from it.

Ryan, who had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a learning disability, had a tendency to put things in his mouth, Dublin County Coroner’s Court heard.

He was taken by ambulance to St Colmcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown, where he was pronounced dead.

A post-mortem found that he died from a lack of oxygen to the brain due to aspiration of a foreign body.

Two care workers changed Ryan’s nappy and dressed him in his school uniform at 7.10am, just over an hour before he was discovered unresponsive. They wore disposable latex gloves while changing him.

One of the care workers, Violet Bates, did not recall specifically what she did with the gloves. She said she would have put them in a bag or would have walked to the bathroom, where she would have taken them off.

She told the coroner yesterday she was satisfied that when she left the room there was not a latex glove there. The other care worker, Deirdre Keane, said she put the gloves in a bag.

At 8.15, care worker Ann Townsend entered the room and noticed that Ryan’s mouth was going blue.

Another care worker Grace Yeoman rang an adjoining facility to call a nurse on duty, Caoimhe Byrnes, before beginning CPR on the boy, who did not have a pulse.

Ms Byrnes continued with CPR. She then noticed something white in his mouth and pulled out a glove.

Coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty said the inquest had not established how Ryan had got his hands on a latex glove which he put in his mouth, obstructing his airway.

He recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Ryan’s mother Louise Hughes, who was visibly upset, attended the inquest yesterday. Her son was an only child and spent two days a week at the respite facility.