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Opiate death inquiry calls for stricter controls


A probe into a prescribing scandal that left three patients dead has said the Department of Health should consider making doctors double check drug charts routinely..

This was one recommendation of a strategic health authority inquiry into the deaths at Airedale Foundation Trust from 2000-02 after Anne Grigg Booth unlawfully gave patients painkilling drugs intravenusly. She was charged with murder.

The investigation, which reported last week, said Ms Grigg-Booth and three colleagues had recorded what they were prescribing during night shifts and had done so for years.

The 212 page report said: “The four night nurse practitioners whose practice we looked at closely all administered intravenous opiates. So did other NNPs. This was against official hospital policy. They did so for years. Senior managers knew or should have known it was going on.”

The report urges that “clear lines of accountability are in place” for prescribing when clinicians’ roles are extended.

The SHA’s medical director and the deputy chief nursing officer for England are due to discuess the recommendations this summer.

Ms Grigg-Booth, who had been a nurse for 25 years, was charged with three counts of murder and 13 of administering a noxious substance. She died of an overdose before her trial in 2005.

The inquiry said it was “unlikely that she deliberately set out to harm patients”.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council said it found “issues” with the trust’s corporate and clinical governance arrangements but it could not pursue them as the directors involved were not registered as nurses or midwives.



Readers' comments (2)

  • All nurses whatever their banding should know clearly what their boundaries of responsibility are. Just like our MP's there should also be a moral alarm bell as to what is the right thing to do.

    Trusts have a duty of care to make sure that all nurses have access to clear lines of accountablity and what is acceptable practice.

    As for Doctors checking drug charts I would say that is the nurses who check them most thoroughly. Certainly as a CNS I am often far more aware of the drug charts and we do in fact review them on the daily medical ward round and look at reasons for administration (especially of oral opiates etc) and look at why things are not administered.

    We must ALL be more accountable for our actions and stop passing the buck all the time. Let's all work together and try to finally get real team work and trust between all the health professionals as well as the patients. I am not convinced that it is working terribly well at the moment.

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  • Terrible punctuation and spelling mistakes! Who writes this stuff?

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