Page last updated at 00:40 GMT, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Fatal morphine family win damages

Catherine Rodger
Mrs Rodger died after taking morphine which was 10 times her usual dose

The family of a woman who died after being prescribed morphine 10 times stronger than her usual dose has won undisclosed damages.

Catherine Rodger, 74, from Dundee, died of a heart attack in 2005 within hours of taking her first pill.

Dr Salahuddin Malik of the city's Downfield Surgery had prescribed 100mg of morphine sulphate rather than the 10mg she usually took for back pain.

Both Dr Malik and pharmacist Andrew Nixon agreed to pay the damages.

The action was raised by Mrs Rodger's four children after the Crown Office failed to prosecute.

Their case amounted to arguing that Mrs Rodger was an old woman with an underlying heart condition who would have died anyway
Jayne Crawford
Thompsons Solicitors

Mrs Rodger died the morning after taking the drug in November 2005.

Her daughter, Rena Brady, 42, who spearheaded the legal action, said the family remained devastated by her loss.

She said: "We are a really close family and mum was such a huge part of it.

"Anyone who met her just knew she had plenty of living to do, which makes it so hard to accept that she has been taken away from us through stupid and careless mistakes by professionals who must know lives are at stake if they get things wrong."

Mrs Brady said the doctor and pharmacist admitted negligence but refused to accept that the huge dose of morphine was what killed Mrs Rodger.

'Pretty callous'

She added: "We went to court because the fiscal decided not to prosecute either Dr Malik or Mr Nixon and the Crown Office refused to give us a fatal accident inquiry.

"We were told it wasn't in the public interest to have an FAI, but we wanted one to warn people to check any prescriptions they receive. What could be more in the public interest than that?"

The family's solicitor Jayne Crawford of Thompsons Solicitors said: "When we raised the action the defenders took what I thought was a pretty callous line.

"Their case amounted to arguing that Mrs Rodger was an old woman with an underlying heart condition who would have died anyway.

"We had to produce a report from cardiologist Dr Stuart Hood of the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley whose opinion was that the overdose triggered her fatal heart attack and that if she had not taken the morphine she would not have died that night.

"He also stated that Mrs Rodger could have reasonably expected to live for another six years."

NHS Tayside said they would not be commenting on the case.



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