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The BBC's Navdip Dhariwal
"Wayne had been making a good recovery undergoing chemotherapy for leukaemia"
 real 56k

Health Secretary Liam Donaldson
"Protocols were in place - but they weren't followed"
 real 28k

John McDonald, Queen's Medical Centre
"This is a tragic case and clearly we have failed Wayne"
 real 28k

Christine Thompkins, Medical Defence Union
"We've been drawing this problem to the attention of our members for a number of years"
 real 28k

The Jowett family
describe what happened when Wayne was given the injection
 real 56k

Thursday, 19 April, 2001, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Drug blunder death 'accidental'
Wayne Jowett
A cancer drug was wrongly injected into Wayne Jowett's spine
A coroner has recorded a verdict of "accidental death" after a teenager had a cancer drug wrongly injected into his spine.

An inquest into the death of Wayne Jowett, in Nottingham, heard how a series of hospital blunders led to his death.

The family had wanted the Nottinghamshire Coroner Dr Nigel Chapman to return a verdict of "unlawful killing".

Dr Chapman said he was unhappy with the verdict of "accidental death," but said he was constrained by law.

Clearly we failed Wayne and his family and for that we are deeply sorry

John MacDonald, chief executive at the Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham

He was heavily critical of the hospital, Department of Health and drug companies for the number of drug blunder deaths like this.

Dr Nigel Chapman said: "We can put a man on the moon but why can't we find a safe method to prevent these deaths."

Fatal error

Wayne, aged 18, died in February, after the leukaemia treatment Vincristine was wrongly injected into his spine rather than a vein.

Wayne, an apprentice mechanic from Keyworth, near Nottingham, was unconscious for almost a month after the mistake, before dying slowly from a creeping paralysis that eventually stopped his heart.

I hope that it doesn't happen again and that Wayne didn't die in vain

Mr Jowett, Wayne's father

Since 1975 there have been at least 13 similar incidents in Britain - almost all of them proved fatal.

An independent report has criticised staff and procedures at the hospital and another highlighted design faults in syringes and drug packaging.

The inquest heard from two doctors, Dr David Morton who had been at the hospital for four months and had never given the treatment before, and Dr Feda Mulhem, who had been at the hospital for two days prior to the blunder.

Both men told the inquest that they had little or no experience in giving lumber puncture treatments to cancer patients and both apologised unreservedly for the mistake which lead to Mr Jowett's death.

Hospital bosses at Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham, told Wayne Jowett's family that they had failed their son.

John MacDonald, chief executive at the hospital said: "This is a most tragic case.

"Wayne was in remission from the leukaemia for which he was being treated when his drug treatment was administered wrongly.

"Clearly we failed Wayne and his family and for that we are deeply sorry."

Learn from mistakes

John McDonald
John McDonald admitted Wayne had been failed
Mr MacDonald said the staff who cared for Wayne were all devastated by the tragedy and deeply sorry for everything that had happened.

"We have met with Mr and Mrs Jowett and they recognise that we have undertaken and published a very thorough inquiry into Wayne's care.

"We have been very honest and open in our findings. Where there were failures by either the hospital or individuals they have been acknowledged."

He promised that hospital bosses and staff would learn from their mistake and follow the recommendations made by two independent inquiry reports.

After the verdict Wayne's father, also called Wayne, said he did blame the medics for the death of his sports mad son.

He said "I do blame the doctors, there were a lot of procedures that failed.

"I hope that it doesn't happen again and that Wayne didn't die in vain."

Mr Jowett declined to say whether the family was considering taking separate civil legal action against either the two doctors at the centre of the blunder or the trust involved.

The family's solicitor, Paul Balen read a statement on behalf of the family which said: "Wayne's family wait with interest to see what steps the authority now take against the doctors involved."

Mr Balen said he wanted to see immediate action to stop similar deaths.

He criticised the Chief Medical Officer, who has pledged action to ensure that by the end of the year no similar tragedies can occur.

"For all the failures of the hospital systems and of the education and training of doctors highlighted by this case, nothing should disguise the fact that the doctors treating Wayne fell short of their professional responsibilities are to blame for his death."

Doctor Morton and Dr Mulhem repeated their apology to the Jowett family in a statement read out from the Medical Defence Union.

"From the outset we admitted our mistakes in Wayne's treatment.

"It is very important after a tragedy has occurred that all lessons are learned and safe systems are put in place to ensure that something like this never happens again.

"We fervently hope that no other family has to go through such an ordeal in the future."

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See also:

19 Apr 01 | Health
'Wayne was in a lot of pain'
19 Apr 01 | Health
New rules to save patients' lives
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