Saturday, 26 September 2009

Mother-of-five died from overdose of chemotherapy drug after gross neglect by hospital

An inquest jury today ruled that a cancer patient died as a result of manslaughter by gross neglect after she was mistakenly prescribed a lethal dose of chemotherapy.
Dr Jacqueline James admitted earlier this week at Bristol Coroner's Court prescribing Anna McKenna, 56, quadruple the amount of a chemotherapy drug required for her bone marrow cancer treatment.
The mother-of-five was diagnosed with Myeloma in March 2006 and put on a four-day course of Idarubicin.
But instead of getting 60mg of the drug over the course of four days, she was given the same amount on each of the four days.
Mrs McKenna, a housewife from Knowle, Bristol, was left with very few white blood cells and her immune system was severely impaired.
She had been given around two years to live and treatment could have prolonged her life, the inquest heard.
She died on April 18, 2006, just three weeks after her first chemotherapy session, after she developed complications including fever and renal failure.
Today, the jury returned a verdict of 'manslaughter by gross neglect'.
Mrs McKenna's husband David, a retired engineer, was in court to hear Dr James's evidence this week, during which the consultant said she was 'very sorry' the mistake was made.

Her error was not the sole factor in the tragedy, as staff at the pharmacy at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol failed to screen the dosage or challenge the figures.
Pathologist Dr Hugh White, who carried out the post mortem, said in a statement: 'Instead of being given 15mg over four days she was given four times this on each of the four days.

'Records show she had a normal white blood cell count, but following the chemotherapy she had vomiting, diarrhoea and pain.'
Shortly after the error, another patient was also given an overdose.
The hospital trust has now introduced several 'robust measures' to tighten up prescription screening practices, including having two pharmacists looking at each one.

Source: Daily Mail