'Error' Caused Drug Trial Death

Chemotherapy drugs


The death of a man during a cancer drug trial has been blamed on a hospital computer system error in setting up the trial.

Gary Foster, 27, who was due to be married this month, was repeatedly given twice the amount of chemotherapy drugs he should have been prescribed for testicular cancer.

Mr Foster, a graphic designer from Waltham Abbey in Essex, had just been diagnosed with testicular cancer and was told he had a 60% chance of survival.

He was invited to apply to take part in a trial at University College London Hospital (UCLH) and was told that, if accepted on to the trial, his chances of survival would increase.

A coroner ruled that Mr Foster died of the drugs he received at the hospital. UCLH said it had reviewed its drugs testing procedures and had "made all appropriate changes to improve patient safety in response to this accident".

However, Mr Foster's mother Colleen said she felt as if her son had been murdered. "Gary was slowly poisoned to death," she said. "An overdose gives the impression that it was a one-off. It was seven times.

"Everyday that he is not here, I cannot believe it, it feels like he has been murdered."

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Linda Smith from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "Drug trials are for the benefit of all patients but it is crucial that they are administered meticulously and with all due care. Computer error is not an excuse as there is always a person behind the scene. The patient already has to deal with a devastating illness and difficult treatment and then to suffer the additional damage caused by this overdose is terribly distressing. His family must be distraught at his loss, when they thought he was improving his chances of survival to have his life snatched away like this.

"Drug trials are extremely important and benefit us all but it is crucial we can have confidence in the safety and accuracy of such trials, so avoidable errors do not happen. It is grossly negligent to administer the wrong dosage and computer error is no excuse, there is always a person behind the computer."