over-sedated | 

Toddler who had to be weaned off Diazepam after being over-prescribed awarded €20k

"Not only was there an overdosing of the child, but on cessation of the medication she began to suffer severe withdrawal symptoms"

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Ray Managh

A 15-month-old child was overdosed for days with a sedation drug because of a pharmacist’s wrongful dispensing of a prescription, a court heard.

Barrister John Nolan told the Circuit Civil Court the child was prescribed doses of 2.5mg by a hospital doctor following a surgical procedure but the pharmacist had marked the bottle “2.6mls twice a day”, which the unsuspecting parents administered.

One milligram is approximately equal to 0.001 of a millilitre in a weight to liquid comparison.

Judge James O’Donoghue approved a settlement offer from Ballyfermot Pharmacy Ltd of €20,000 to Maisy Jane Murphy, who will be five in June.

Mr Nolan said Maisy Jane’s parents, Aidan and Shauna Murphy, of Mulhuddart, Blanchardstown, Dublin, had to wean their child off the drug under medical supervision.

Mr Murphy, in an affidavit, told the judge that in August 2018, when Maisy Jane was a year and three months old, she was admitted to the Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, for a surgical procedure.

“Following discharge from the hospital, a prescription was given to her mother by medical staff at the hospital, prescribing Diazepam, 2.5mg,” Mr Nolan said.

“He said that at the pharmacy his wife had been provided with a bottle containing Diazepam and marked with a label bearing the instructions ‘6.25mls to be taken daily’.”

Mr Nolan told the court this represented a wrongful dispensing of the prescription.

Mr and Mrs Murphy believed that when giving the medication to their daughter, they had been complying with the instructions and had done so until the 100mls bottle was empty.

“Not only was there an overdosing of the child, but on cessation of the medication she began to suffer severe withdrawal symptoms. The child was being over-sedated,” Mr Nolan told Judge O’Donoghue.

He said Maisy Jane was readmitted to Crumlin Hospital in mid-September with a history of severe irritability following discontinuation of Diazepam.

She had been given the drug for up to six weeks and had to be placed on weaning doses, which had taken almost two months before she returned to normal.

Mr Nolan said the parents had gone through an extremely difficult period with their child, not understanding why she had been behaving the way she had or that the instructions had involved excessive sedation followed by significant withdrawal symptoms.

Mrs Murphy had suffered a severe psychological reaction.

Judge O’Donoghue, who was told by Mr Nolan that as a matter of certainty liability would be established, approved the pharmacy’s €20,000 offer with circuit court costs and said counsel had succeeded in negotiating a very good settlement.

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