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Doctor in fatal baby overdose case ‘trusted’ nurses to check dosage

Written by on 26/11/2020

The doctor involved in overseeing a fatal overdose to an 11-month-old girl in hospital says she had “trusted” nurses to make sure the dosage was correct, an inquest has heard.

Sophie Burgess was taken to St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey, Surrey, after suffering a seizure in June 2016.

She later died following an overdose of the drug phenytoin.

Dr Hatahet administered a handheld syringe despite a nurse saying it was not needed
Image: An additional dose of medicine was given to Sophie – despite a nurse saying it was not needed

Her inquest previously heard that Dr Lojein Hatahet and Dr Fiona MacCarthy had attempted to give her an anti-seizure drug using an automated syringe-driver.

However, it failed to work and it was decided that Dr Hatahet would administer a handheld syringe, despite one of the nurses saying that it was not needed, and that particular method was against hospital protocol.

The inquest was paused in 2017 after it emerged there was new evidence to be examined.

However Surrey Police decided not to press ahead with a criminal investigation.

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As the inquest resumed on Thursday, Dr MacCarthy said she was unaware the drug in the syringe had not been diluted – as it should have been.

She claimed it was “taken on the trust” that the dosage was correct, saying she “felt every reason to be confident that the dose in that syringe was the correct dose”.

The party drug has been linked to 219 deaths over a 10-year period, as well as thousands of emergency hospital admissions each year
Image: Dr MacCarthy says she was ‘very concerned’ Sophie’s condition would worsen had they not acted quickly

Dr MacCarthy added that it was a nurse’s responsibility for “drawing up” the dosage, and while she did not administer the drug herself, it was her decision to use it.

She said that she was keen to use the drug as she was “very concerned” about Sophie’s condition, fearing that she may experience more seizures had they not acted.

The inquest discovered the doctor had altered her records of the incident to show the drug was administered for an extra 10 minutes than what she had previously recorded.

Clodagh Bradley QC, representing Sophie’s parents asked her: “Were you trying to cover your tracks because you knew you had given phenytoin too quickly?”

Dr MacCarthy replied: “That is incorrect.” She said the initial entry was an approximate guess which she later amended after having a conversation with Dr Hatahet.

She said: “This was not in any way a cover-up. This was the worst day of my life.”

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Image: One of the doctors involved said the incident was the ‘worst day’ of their life

Sophie’s parents Gareth and Emma Burgess attended the hearing and brought with them a photograph of their daughter, which the coroner placed in front of her.

Mr Burgess previously said that the day his daughter died, she had called him “Dada” for the first time.

Describing Sophie, he recalled: “She was just a happy baby, always smiling, she was just starting out in life.”

Sophie had experienced several seizures triggered by a reaction to infections during the last two months of her life.

The inquest continues.

 Sky News

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