Medical negligence experts at Shoosmiths Serious Injury have stressed the importance of the coordination of care to patients by different healthcare providers, following the recent inquest following the death of a Leicester man.
An inquest heard that Jamie O’Connor, 28, was found deceased at his home in October 2018 following an overdose of prescription drugs.
The court was told how Mr O’Connor had a history of mental and physical illness for which he was prescribed medication by both his psychiatrist and GP. However, there was no requirement for information sharing between the services and it was heard that Mr O’Connor was obtaining the medication from an online pharmacy.
At the hearing on October 20, 2021, the coroner raised concerns about:
- The lack of a central tracking system for prescriptions.
- The possibility the system could be abused.
- No requirement to notify a patients GP of a prescription.
- No face-to-face appointments before drugs are dispensed.
- The ease of altering questionnaires to access drugs.
- Limited regulation because of where the company prescribing drugs is registered.
A Prevention Of Future Deaths report has been sent to The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and a response is awaited.
Shoosmiths regularly act for clients where there has been a lack of coordination between different health services, including between multiple GPs at the same practice, resulting in delays in treatment and missed opportunities to diagnose a patient.
Andrea Rusbridge, partner and specialist in clinical negligence at Shoosmiths Northampton office, advises that the tragic circumstances of Mr O’Connor’s case echo those of a recent case she settled for a client.
Andrea was instructed by Mr Rafferty, who had suffered a staggering 16-year delay in the diagnosis of Haemochromatosis, which is a condition which causes your body to absorb too much iron and can lead to life threatening conditions.
Mr Rafferty’s blood test results were abnormal but not acted upon, as each new GP he saw ordered new tests instead of looking back at his history and seeing the full picture.
Andrea said: “It is important that there is effective communication between clinicians, whether that is between two different services or ‘in-house’ to ensure a diagnosis is not overlooked or conflicts with how another clinician is already treating the patient. If this does not happen it can result in significant delays and negatively impact the patient’s welfare.
“With modern technology, patients expect each doctor they visit to have access to their full medical history so they can be treated appropriately.”
The Coroner’s report can be accessed on the judiciary website.
Jamie O’Connor: Prevention of future deaths report | Courts and Tribunals Judiciary
This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2023