A coroner has questioned why a senior medic failed to visit the family of a Wigan man who had been given the wrong drugs at the town’s hospital.
Joseph King, 68, had been prescribed clonazepam, an anti-anxiety drug, instead of his usual clobezan pills, used to treat epilepsy, for a number of days after his admission to Wigan Infirmary, Bolton Coroner’s Court was told.
Coroner Alan Walsh asked Dr Daniel Kannapan, a consultant in acute medicine, why he had not met the patient’s wife and son, Margaret and Ian King, after the medication error was identified in January 2016.
But Dr Kannapan, who was responsible for the overall care of Mr King, said he had already been informed a colleague had spoken with the family.
He told the hearing he had a clinic at the Thomas Linacre centre that day and an important meeting, during which time Mr King’s condition had deteriorated.
Mr Walsh said: “I might be old school but I would have thought that the appropriate thing to do would have been to visit the family at this time.”
An inquest heard that the patient, who lived in Skelton Street, Ashton, died as the result of pneumonia shortly afterwards, which doctors attributed to a number of possible factors, including the infection, sepsis and his longstanding immobility.
The inquest heard Mr King had previously been treated for a brain tumour, which had left him unable to walk, and had also undergone bladder surgery in the recent past.
The coroner also asked Dr Indrajit Talapatra, a staff grade physician who saw Mr King, why no mention was made on the patient’s medical notes of the wrong drug, clonazepam, eventually being stopped and the right treatment, clobezan, being administered.
Dr Talapatra said he had been told by a colleague, Dr Emma Thornton, that the medication regime was changed on January 18 and 19.
But under cross-examination he admitted that there was no indication in the medical records which confirmed exactly when this had taken place.
Mr King was admitted to the hospital on January 14, with a urinary tract infection, and the wrong drugs were prescribed until a pharmacist spotted the error, the court heard.
The coroner said: “What I am trying to establish is whether clonazepam could have been responsible for his reduced level of consciousness, in the days leading up to his death.”
Dr Talapatra said: “It could have been, it could not have been. I don’t know.”
The inquest heard that a police investigation was undertaken, following Mr King’s death, with pharmacists and nurses interviewed by officers. But a report by Det Insp Matthew Moore later concluded it was not in the public interest to pursue any criminal case over his death.
The hearing was originally adjourned in January for further enquiries after the coroner had called for a number of other witnesses to be called.
Mrs King, giving evidence at the previous hearing, told the court she was called on January 20 and was informed an overdose of drugs which “should not have been prescribed.”