Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Monday, 8 March 2010

Radiation overdose 'did not kill' teenager Lisa Norris

Lisa Norris
Lisa Norris died nine months after the radiation overdose

A fatal accident inquiry into the death of a teenager who was given accidental overdoses of radiation during treatment for a brain tumour has been abandoned.

Lisa Norris, who was 15 and from Girvan in Ayrshire, died a few months after the treatment at Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow in 2006.

The inquiry was abandoned after all parties agreed her illness caused her death rather than the overdose.

The proceedings were formally wound up at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Monday.

Miss Norris was given 58% too much radiation during her treatment at the Beatson and died at her family home on 18 October 2006.

An internal inquiry following her death found that she had died from her tumour and not from the overdose.

It is clear that there no longer exists any controversy surrounding the cause of Lisa's death and the cause of Lisa's tragic death is clear
Procurator Fiscal Lesley Thomson

However, that was disputed by an independent report from one of the country's top cancer experts.

At Glasgow Sheriff Court on Monday, Procurator Fiscal Lesley Thomson said any disagreement among experts had now been resolved.

"The medical experts who are all in full possession of the facts and the initial differing opinions have ultimately concluded that there is no causal link between the radiation overdose and Lisa's death," she said.

Ms Thomson said that the Norris family also accepted this conclusion and were of the opinion that a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) should not go ahead.

"Shortly after the continued preliminary hearing on 22 February the representatives of Lisa's family advised me that the family had reached the view that they were content that a full investigation had been carried out, that there was no causal link between the radiation overdose and Lisa's death and that they did not want the fatal accident inquiry and the leading of evidence now to take place," she said.

'No dispute'

Ms Thomson added: "They also accepted that the Beatson, since the date of the radiation overdose error, had taken steps to rectify the problem by reviewing their systems and had improved and replaced them to seek to ensure that such an error could not occur again.

"Following the representations therefore by the family and the Greater Glasgow Health Board it is clear that there no longer exists any controversy surrounding the cause of Lisa's death and the cause of Lisa's tragic death is clear."

Ms Thomson told the court that as there were "no matters of dispute that require to be aired in public, it is not appropriate to cause any further anxiety and distress to the bereaved relatives by the hearing of evidence".

She asked for the fatal accident inquiry to be abandoned and said such a move would also avoid any unnecessary expenses to the parties involved and the public purse.

Ms Thomson also asked that the court make a formal determination that Miss Norris died as a result of "recurrent pineoblastoma" or brain tumour.

That was agreed to by Sheriff Principal James Alistair Taylor.

Lisa Norris
The radiation overdose left Miss Norris with burns to her head and neck

Miss Norris's father, Ken, did not want to comment directly on the proceedings.

But his lawyer, Cameron Fyfe, said: "We had a report from Professor Sikora, an expert in oncology, who confirmed that Lisa would probably have survived had it not been for the overdose.

"After further inquiry the professor revised his report to say it was a possibility, not a probability.

"Proof in Scots law is based on the balance of probabilities and that is not enough for the fiscal to proceed with the fatal accident inquiry.

"I think the family are disappointed that Professor Sikora was unable to adhere to his initial view but they accept that it was not appropriate for the FAI to proceed in these circumstances."

Mr Fyfe said the Norris family would continue its civil action against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde over the treatment she was given.

However, they will now seek compensation only for the pain and suffering that Miss Norris went through as a result of the overdose, and not for her death.

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