Saturday 24 February 2018

Emotional scenes as case against pharmacist who refused EpiPen dismissed

Emma Sloan died after eating food containing nuts
Emma Sloan died after eating food containing nuts
Pharmacist David Murphy arriving at the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland inquiry

Liz Farsaci

There were emotional scenes today as the disciplinary proceedings against a pharmacist were dismissed.

The Pharmaceutical Society inquiry into pharmacist David Murphy, who was facing an allegation of poor professional performance, was concluded today after the charge against him was dismissed by the inquiry committee, due to lack of evidence.

Upon the committee’s ruling, Caroline Sloan, mother of 14-year-old Emma Sloan, who died on O’Connell Street in December 2013, was visibly distraught.

The Fitness to Practice inquiry was looking into events prior to the death of Emma Sloan, from Drimnagh in Dublin.

Emma, 14, died after going into anaphylactic shock after she mistakenly ate Satay sauce at a Chinese restaurant in Dublin city centre in 19 December 2013.

Once Emma realised she had consumed a peanut-based product, she and her mother, Caroline Sloan, decided to go to Temple Street Children’s Hospital.

On the way there, Caroline Sloan went into the Hamilton Long pharmacy on O’Connell to request an emergency supply of EpiPen, which is an adrenalin shot used to treat people suffering from anaphylactic shock.

Mr. Murphy, who was working in the pharmacy that night, denied Ms. Sloan’s request for an EpiPen as she did not have a prescription.

It was originally claimed that Mr Murphy failed to adequately respond when he refused Ms. Sloan’s request for an EpiPen.

Ronan Kennedy, barrister for Mr. Murphy, submitted the successful application to have the case dismissed this afternoon.

Mr. Murphy did not give direct evidence to the inquiry.

Prior to Mr. Kennedy’s application today, an expert witness gave evidence.

Professor Stephen Byrne, of University College Cork, told the inquiry that, in his opinion, Mr. Murphy should have requested more information from Emma’s mother.

Prof Byrne said that an adequate interview with Ms. Sloan did not take place so Mr. Murphy could determine who the patient was or why the EpiPen was required.

‘In my opinion, he could have gone further and requested more information,’ Prof Byrne said.

‘I think the average pharmacist would have engaged more with the patient,’ Prof Byrne added.

Prof Byrne said a request for an EpiPen would indicate the gravity of the situation, adding that it would be very rare for a pharmacist to be faced with a request for an emergency supply of EpiPen.

Prof Byrne was asked by an inquiry committee member how serious such a request for an EpiPen would be, on the scale of one to ten.

Prof Byrne replied it would be on a level of eight or nine in terms of seriousness.

Throughout the case, there has been a conflict regarding whether Ms. Sloan told Mr. Murphy that the person who needed the EpiPen was her daughter. She has claimed that she did so, but Mr. Murphy has indicated, through his legal counsel, that he was not informed that the injection was for Ms. Sloan’s daughter.

When asked about the apparent discrepancy regarding the events, Ms. Sloan told the inquiry earlier this week: ‘My memory doesn’t fail. Two years next week it will be and it is like it was yesterday.’

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