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Danielle Welsh

February 4, 2011

The father of a teenager who died after being given overdoses of intravenous paracetamol has called on the medics who missed the error to be prosecuted.

John Welsh’s daughter, Danielle, 19, died from liver failure after being given the drug at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital in June 2008.

A fatal accident inquiry said flawed procedures were to blame.

Mr Welsh said the 11 nurses and 12 doctors who missed the overdoses had “killed her” and should face charges.

The inquiry heard that Danielle had an undefined condition which gave rise to short stature, mild but longstanding learning difficulties, problems with hearing and chronic pain, particularly in the limbs and joints.

She was taken by her parents to the Southern General on 15 June 2008 after she became unwell.

The teenager was given anti-viral and antibiotic drugs, as well as 1g (0.035oz) of paracetamol “when required”.

Two days later Danielle’s was vomiting and oral administration of drugs became more difficult.

The inquiry heard how she was seen by Dr Shamita Das, a foundation year one doctor, who was asked to prescribe pain relief.

Dr Das had had no previous dealings with Danielle and she did not know her weight was only 35kg (5st 7lb).

The resultant intravenous dosage of 1g paracetamol, four times a day, was about double the appropriate dosage for someone of Danielle’s weight.

The teenager’s case was looked at on 19 June by pharmacist Lesley Murray who did not alter the prescription.

The inquiry heard that she did not know that the intravenous and oral dosages of paracetamol were different.

On 22 June blood tests showed grossly abnormal liver function and Danielle was referred to the liver unit at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Heart attack

Two days later she suffered a fatal heart attack.

In total, Danielle was seen by 11 nurses and 12 different doctors and received 20 doses of paracetamol.

The inquiry heard that the doctors were at all levels and not one of them noted the overdose.

No one had appreciated that the intravenous dosage had to be different from the oral dosage.

In his ruling, Sheriff Andrew Cubie said: “There was a gap in the knowledge of all those who prescribed, administered, reviewed and considered the intravenous paracetamol prescription.”

He concluded: “There was no systemic failure identifiable from the evidence led.

“The was, however, a prevailing and pervasive failure to appreciate the particular peculiarities of the intravenous dosage of paracetamol, a lack of knowledge and experience shared by the 23 different professionals who dealt with Danielle.”

Speaking after the ruling, Danielle’s father, John Welsh, said he wanted medical staff to be prosecuted for negligence.

He said: “All this talk that her death could have been avoided is ridiculous – they actually killed her. They gave her an overdose and were plain and simply negligent.

“I would like to see these people held accountable for what they did. I want a prosecution.

“I’m a driver and if I caused an accident and then said it was because I didn’t know the road, I would still be prosecuted so why shouldn’t they?

“These people caused the death of my daughter. Her death didn’t have anything to do with illness, it was caused when they gave her double the amount of the drug she should have been given and continued to do it again and again.”

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