Tuesday, April 20, 1999 Published at 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Nurse questioned overdose doctor's judgement
The hearing is taking place in London
A staff nurse twice questioned a junior doctor as she prepared a lethal dose of morphine for a one-day-old baby, the General Medical Council has heard.
The regulatory body for doctors is considering the case charges of serious professional misconduct against consultant paediatrician Dr Jean Shorland and two other doctors at Rotherham General Hospital.
The charges relate to the death of baby Louise Wood in 1995.
She was given a dose of morphine 100 times stronger than she should have been.
If found guilty of the charges, the three doctors could be banned from operating.
Dr Shorland and senior registrar Dr Vivian Michel are accused of covering up the circumstances of Louise's death.
The third doctor, Dr Hilary Evans, is alleged to have miscalculated the dose - once on a scrap of paper and again on a calculator.
On Tuesday the GMC's professional conduct committee heard from Sheila Scott, a staff nurse at the hospital's baby unit for 20 years.
She accepted that she was partly to blame for the blunder.
But she told the council she had informed Dr Evans that one ampoule containing 10 milligrams of the drug would be more than enough to sedate the seven-week premature infant.
Dr Evans requested a second ampoule anyway - as a result, Louise received a dose 100 times the safe limits, the hearing heard.
Ms Scott said there had been "pandemonium" in the hospital that day, and it was in that atmosphere that she had breached hospital protocol by signing the drugs register.
"The baby looked so sick I thought at that stage the baby was going to die," she said.
"Other babies were crying. There were visitors already in the unit and others entering.
"A baby of a drug addict mother was basically screaming, going through withdrawal. It was pandemonium, hectic."
Extra morphine was fetched
She told the hearing she fetched the second ampoule because she believed Dr Evans had dropped the first one.
"It was in the haste of the moment I just automatically passed her one. We were hurrying," she said.
"I asked her (Dr Evans) why she needed it. (She said) there wasn't enough.
"My initial thought was that she'd somehow lost it or dropped it.
"When I asked her why she needed it she said there wasn't enough. I said there was usually enough in one ampoule and some wasted.
"I cannot remember what I actually said next. I did ask again what she was giving.
"She said (she was giving) 156 micrograms.
"I said what are you giving?
"She picked up a calculator and did the calculation."
The nurse said she read the figure on the calculator screen which said 1.5.
"I said it wasn't right. I think I said that's not right, it's too much, but I'm not quite sure of the words I said at that time."