Pensioner Dies After Receiving ‘Double’ Drugs Dose

Family Calls For Full Investigation


The family of a Somerset pensioner, who died five weeks after apparently being given double the prescribed dose of a drug dispensed by a Boots pharmacist, are calling for a full investigation and for lessons to be learned.

Eighty one year old Ellen Newman from Weston Super Mare, was a resident at a local retirement home and had been prescribed the drug Primidone by her GP, to control tremors.
However, it is alleged that a tablet containing double the prescribed dose was dispensed by the Weston Super Mare High Street branch of Boots. As care homes are legally not allowed to halve tablets they returned them to the pharmacy. However, later that day the tablets were sent back to the home with instructions from the pharmacist that it was in fact okay to give a whole tablet.

It is understood that after taking the Primodone tablet, Mrs Newman, who was a resident at Earlfield Lodge Retirement Home in Weston Super Mare, became very lethargic, was unable to move her limbs, and developed slurred speech - all within an hour of the medication being given.

She was later transferred to Weston General Hospital, suffering from kidney and liver failure.  Mrs Newman remained in hospital and, following respiratory and lung failure, sadly she passed away five weeks later, on 23rd June 2010.

Medical Negligence Expert Calls For Lessons To Be Learned

Gillian Tayler, a medical law expert with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, who is representing the family, said: “The family are understandably concerned and wish to find out whether the apparent over-medication was in any way responsible for Mrs Newman’s death.

“We are in the very early stages of investigating what happened to Mrs Newman, but there are a number of questions that they feel need to be answered.

“We are awaiting a date for an inquest hearing but, in the interim, the family has lodged a formal complaint with Boots. Following an internal company investigation Boots have made a number of staffing changes, but the family are anxious to ensure that lessons have been learned so that critical errors like this are not allowed to happen in the future.”

Speaking on behalf of the family, daughter, Vanessa Newman, also from Weston Super Mare, said: “The family is understandably devastated by the loss of our mother. Although she was being looked after in a retirement home because she had difficulty walking unaided, she had a good quality of life and none of the conditions she was suffering from were considered ‘life threatening.’

“We feel we cannot rest until we get answers into the circumstances that led to her death.”