Wrong Prescription Leads to Woman’s Death
An inquest has told how a Dublin woman died two days after being given the wrong prescription by one of the city´s pharmacies.
Margaret Swaine (64) passed away due to a heart attack in July 2010 after being mistakenly dispensed Tegretol – an anti-convulsant and mood stabilising drug – instead of Trentol, a drug which had been prescribed for Margaret to assist the flow of blood through her body due to a pre-existing heart condition.
The Coroners Court was told Dr Brian Farrell testify that Margaret´s death was due to her heart condition, but the effects of the Tegretol had constituted an “additional stressor”. His proof was supported by University College Dublin´s Professor Patrick Murray, who confirmed that the presence of Tegretol had been a contributing factor to Margaret´s heart attack and said “It is very unlikely that she would have passed away on that given day had she not taken the Tegretol.”
The court was also told the circumstances surrounding how Margaret was dispensed the wrong medicine. Margaret´s friend – Ann Murphy – related how Margaret had come home from the Janet Dillon Pharmacy in Stoneybatter with the tablets which Ann believed were for the treatment of depression. Margaret took the Tegretol tablets three times over the course of the day and became groggy, disorientated and unstable on her feet.
Ann visited the pharmacy and showed the box of tablets to pharmacist Janet Dillon, who was alarmed that the pharmacy had dispensed the wrong medicine and who exchanged the Tegretol for the correct medicine. However, Margaret´s symptoms persisted and the following morning she was discovered sitting on the side of her bed having difficulty breathing. White foam was coming from her mouth and her pulse had slowed. An ambulance was called but attempts to resuscitate Margaret at the Mater Hospital failed.
In court, Janet Dillon stated that a “picking error” by a trainee assistant had been the reason why the wrong medicine was dispensed, but that she checked the medicine before it was dispensed to Margaret and her failure to spot the mistake was attributable to human error. The DPP has decided not to prosecute the pharmacy, but Margaret´s family may be entitled to claim compensation for being dispensed the wrong medicine.