Drug error causes death of elderly woman - £40,000

‘Grace’, 79

Sophie Fox, a specialist medical negligence solicitor at JMW represented a grieving family in a legal battle over the death of their 79-year-old mother, which was caused by a hospital drug error. Sophie supported the family in their fight for justice against the hospital and was successful in obtaining £40,000 in compensation for them.

Poor communication

‘Grace’ was undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma and was prescribed several medications including Allopurinol. This drug caused her to develop a rash on her hands and face but prescription was continued.

At the start of the third cycle of chemotherapy Grace was again prescribed Allopurinol and was given a box of 21 days’ worth of tablets. On the box there was a handwritten note stating to only take the medication for three days. This was not communicated verbally to Grace who took it for 11 days before stopping the medication of her own accord.

Grace was subsequently taken to A&E in an ambulance with an excruciatingly painful rash and skin peeling. She was diagnosed with Steven Johnson Syndrome equivalent to third degree burns covering 80-90% of her body and was transferred to a specialist dermatology department. Her condition was confirmed as being a severe reaction to Allopurinol. Sadly treatment was unsuccessful. Whilst in hospital Grace developed a venous thromboembolism and she passed away due to pulmonary embolism.

An inquest was held where the coroner concluded in a narrative verdict that "on the balance of probabilities the responsible drug was Allopurinol" and noted that this resulted from the communication and process at the trust being unsatisfactory.

Successful medical negligence case

JMW’s Sophie Fox claimed that the trust had negligently provided Grace with an excessive dose of Allopurinol lasting 21 days when she only required a prescription for three days. They had further negligently failed appropriately to advise Grace in respect of the medication prescribed and the required dose. The trust did not admit these errors or accept liability for Grace’s death, however, after negotiations by Sophie, they agreed to settle the case for £40,000.

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