A district nurse has been placed under investigation by health watchdogs after she accidentally gave a drugs overdose to a dying Doncaster woman.
The family of mum-of-three Linda Jackson have spoken of their ongoing heartache after they insisted on a probe into her treatment during her final hours after it was revealed the dosage of medication she received in one go to treat a tickly cough was instead the recommended level to be administered over 24 hours.
However, Doncaster deputy coroner Fred Curtis concluded she died of natural causes following an inquest into her death.
Following the conclusion of the inquest her husband of 28 years, Tony, spoke for the first time.
The 57-year-old said: “Before the district nurses came out, Linda had been relatively well and comfortable other than suffering with an irritating cough that kept her awake through the night.
“I’ll never forget seeing her collapse before my eyes within seconds of the nurse injecting the drugs into her left thigh.
“I could tell by the look on the nurse’s face that she knew she had done something wrong immediately and she was phoning for help before she’d even left the bedroom.”
Mrs Jackson, 60, was receiving palliative care at home in Waverley Avenue, Balby, after developing renal failure following treatment for cervical cancer.
Her husband called the out-of-hours service on August 18 last year so she could be given medication for an irritating tickly cough.
Despite the rehabilitation assistant questioning the nurse over the amount of medication she planned to administer in a syringe, she went ahead and gave Linda 1.2mg of the drug Hyoscine Hydrobromide – a dose so high that it would normally be administered over a 24-hour continuous period through a syringe driver.
Hyoscine is a drug sometimes used to suppress the body’s production of fluid and mucous during palliative care and it is very rarely fatal.
Toxicology expert Simon Elliot told the inquest that the level found in Mrs Jackson’s blood were well below those seen in fatalities, but pointed out she was a very debilitated patient because of her kidney failure.
Following a police investigation no charges were brought but the family instructed lawyers Irwin Mitchell to investigate.
The firm obtained a serious untoward incident report prepared by Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust which concluded that the district nurse was confused by the palliative care paperwork, believing that the medication had been described as a single dose.
The trust drew up an action plan which included making the syringe driver and non-syringe driver paperwork considerably different in appearance, as well as increasing training for district nurses.
The report also stated the lead nurse would be investigated and be referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council for further consideration of her fitness to practice.
Mr Jackson added: “We are pleased the trust has made improvements to try and prevent anyone else going through the same ordeal but it should not have taken the overdose given to my wife for this to happen.
“We would also like to know the result of the disciplinary proceedings the nurse was subject to following the incident as this will help to give us closure once and for all.
“We knew we didn’t have long left with Linda but those last few weeks were incredibly precious to all the family. Linda lived for those she loved and those she loved remember Linda.”
A spokesman for Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust said the new practices put in place following Mrs Jackson’s death should “further minimise the risk of this happening again”.
She added: “We have been liaising with Mrs Jackson’s family, have shared our findings with them and will continue to liaise with them.”