AN elderly patient died after she was incorrectly given four times the prescribed dose of morphine by a junior doctor who was working for the seventh night in a row.
Dr Deirdre Murphy, a senior house officer at St Columcille's Hospital in Dublin, broke down in tears as she told how she gave a patient the wrong dose during a 13-hour shift.
Dr Murphy said she had been working the seventh night in a row when 84-year-old Bridget Traynor was admitted in the early hours of October 19 last year. Mrs Traynor of Cyprus Grove Road Templeogue, Dublin died several hours after she was admitted to the hospital's emergency department.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Dublin county coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty found that the incorrect administration of drugs did not contribute to her death and that Mrs Traynor died as a result of acute lower respiratory tract infection.
But he said he intended writing to the manager of St Columcille's pointing that a doctor who had worked seven nights in a row in 13-hour shifts had been left feeling very tired.
That was a long period for a doctor to work and he would recommend it would not happen again. Following the verdict, Mrs Traynor's daughter Bernie called for an investigation by HIQA, the Health Information and Quality Authority.
Dr Murphy said X-rays suggested Mrs Traynor had acute pulmonary oedema.
The plan was to administer noradrenaline -- which increases blood pressure -- and furosemide, a diuretic to reduce fluid in her lungs. She mixed up the vials of furosemide and noradrenaline and was then told by a medical registrar to administer 2.5mg of morphine. She administered a full syringe of the drug, containing 10mg.
Asked by the coroner why she had worked so many long hours, she said she thought it was due to staff shortages.