West Sussex woman died after prescription mistake

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A WOMAN died after a junior doctor mistakenly prescribed her a large overdose of heart medication.

A week-long inquest heard how Joan Dixon, 77, died on Ashling ward at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, after Dr Prashen Pillay prescribed her with Digoxin for an irregular heartbeat.

The inquest, held at Park House in Horsham, heard how Dr Pillay had meant to prescribe 250 micrograms of the heart-slowing drug, but instead wrote mg, which stands for milligrams and would have resulted in a dosage of 1,000 times the correct amount.

Dr Pillay, who had been working at the hospital for about eight weeks, said: ‘Somewhere between my brain and my right hand it got turned from micrograms into milligrams.’

Addressing Mrs Dixon’s family, he added: ‘I want to say sorry. I really liked your mum. She was hard work, but she was funny, and I have to live with that every day for the rest of my life.

‘When I get back to my career, which I will, I’m going to make it my life’s work to make sure this does not happen again, and that junior doctors get support, because I didn’t get much.’

The inquest was told the prescription card originally read 250mg, but was changed to 250mcg.

After this it was changed to 500mcg, which was crossed out and 250mcg was written again by Dr Pillay.

Dr Pillay said he did not know who had originally changed his mistake, but said ‘it was lucky’ somebody did.

However, coroner for West Sussex Penelope Schofield was told for some reason Mrs Dixon, of High Street, Findon, was still administered 2,500mcg in total – an overdose of 10 times.

The inquest heard after Mrs Dixon received the drug, she went into cardiac arrest and died the same day.