Joshua Gaffney, 22, died from acute clozapine toxicology after being given 84ml (4,200mg) instead of just 4ml (200mg) of clozapine, 21 times more than prescribed. He died in his Yeovil, Somerset home, in February of last year. The toxicology report from the autopsy revealed the error.
Mental health nurses who administered the medication, Amanda Young and Petia Gummer, were charged with manslaughter. Both worked at the Summerlands Hospital in Yeovil, and were suspended by the Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust while subject to the investigation. Gummer denied the gross inaccuracy in drug administration and negligence allegations, reports the Daily Mail.
At the time of his death, Joshua was being treated for psychosis. Psychosis is a general psychiatric term. It describes a mental disorder where people are disconnect from reality. Patients afflicted with psychosis exhibit erratic personality and physical behaviors. Depending upon the severity of the mental illness, it can impair daily activities.
Clozapine is an anti-psychotic medication used in the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It is usually used cautiously as a last resort in patients that have not responded to other anti-psychotic treatments.
Clozapine can cause agranulocytosis, and requires blood tests while undergoing treatment. Agranulocytosis is a condition involving a dangerous decrease in the number of white blood cells.
Several agencies conducted investigations regarding the alleged negligence and competency of the nurses involved. They included the Nursing and Midwifery Council, The Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
CPS formally dropped the allegations after reviewing investigation materials. The Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said it would conduct its own internal investigation following the decision not to pursue criminal charges by police.
Joshua’s mother, Tina Marren, is devastated with the decision:
“My son was my life and that was taken away. I will never give up until I get answers for Joshua. He was a wonderful, lovely person. I feel the authorities are treating Joshua as if he was not important. As a family we are so angered, hurt, and devastated.”
Joshua’s family is moving forward in their case, seeking further answers in his death.
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