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Mum in call for public hearing into 'nut death'

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Emma Sloan's mother Caroline at her funeral. Photo: David Conachy

Emma Sloan's mother Caroline at her funeral. Photo: David Conachy

TRAGIC: Emma died after eating peanut-based sauce

TRAGIC: Emma died after eating peanut-based sauce

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Emma Sloan's mother Caroline at her funeral. Photo: David Conachy

A formal inquiry into the role of a pharmacy who denied an anti-allergy injection to a girl, who subsequently died, should be held in public, her mother claims.

Caroline Sloan, whose daughter Emma died in her arms in Dublin city centre last December, has requested that all evidence be heard in public.

The inquiry hearing to be held by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland is expected to begin within the first three months of 2015.

"I don't want the inquiry to be held in private. As I am the person making the complaint, I want it all to be public," she said.

Severe

Emma (14) suffered a severe allergic reaction to nuts contained in a sauce during a family outing to a Chinese restaurant a few days before last Christmas.

The family group left the restaurant and Caroline went into the Hamilton Long pharmacy around the corner on O'Connell Street and asked a pharmacist for an anti-allergy EpiPen adrenaline injection for Emma.

A pharmacist informed her that he could not give it to her without a prescription.

Caroline said he advised her to bring Emma to a hospital casualty department.

She left the pharmacy but shortly afterwards, Emma collapsed and died on a footpath on O'Connell Street.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) is the statutory regulator for pharmacists empowered to hold public hearings relating to actions of its members.

Ms Sloan, a resident of Drimnagh, said the PSI informed her it was proceeding with a formal inquiry hearing.

She has engaged a solicitor and was not agreeable with the PSI alone pursuing the matter. She decided to proceed with her own complaint at the inquiry, irrespective of what case the society's own officers decide to pursue.

The inquiry deliberations may include regulations introduced in 2003, which allow pharmacists, in emergencies, to supply prescription-only medication without a prescription.

A spokeswoman for the Hamilton Long pharmacy said, "We have not been given any date for an inquiry. And we haven't been asked about any option about it being public or private so I won't be making any comment about it."

Enforcement

A PSI inspection and enforcement unit has visited the pharmacy as part of its investigation.

A PSI spokesman said he cannot confirm or deny that a hearing will take place until it is actually ready to happen. The hearing would be expected to be held in public, but there could be applications that it be held in private, he said. Ms Sloan has called for more education for parents about nut allergies, with particular emphasis on the potentially fatal consequences.

hnews@herald.ie


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