Page last updated at 14:31 GMT, Tuesday, 22 September 2009 15:31 UK

Consultant prescribed 'overdose'

Dr Jacqueline James
Jacqueline James prescribed four times too much Idarubicin.

A hospital consultant has told an inquest she made a mistake which led to a cancer patient receiving four times the usual amount of chemotherapy drugs.

Anna McKenna, 56, from Knowle West, Bristol, was being treated for multiple myeloma - a cancer of the marrow in the bone of the spine - in 2006.

Dr Jacqueline James, from Frenchay Hospital, prescribed 60mg of drugs for four days instead of over four days.

Mrs McKenna was unable to fight off infection, the inquest was told.

She died four weeks later on 18 April 2006, some three weeks after her first chemotherapy session when she developed complications, including fever and renal failure.

'Prescription lost'

Mrs McKenna had been given around two years to live and treatment could have prolonged her life, the inquest was told.

Dr James told the hearing she was "very sorry" for the error before the mother-of-five's death.

Pharmacists who should have screened the document for errors and prevented the incident, also failed to do so, the jury at Flax Bourton Coroner's Court heard.

The prescription itself has been lost, meaning the individual responsible for the check could not be found, the hearing was told.

North Bristol NHS Trust has now introduced several "robust measures" to tighten up prescription screening practices, including having two pharmacists looking at every one.

The inquest continues.

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