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Doctor apologises to family of boy, 5, who died from epilepsy drug overdose as she admits making a mistake


  • Epileptic Bailey Ratcliffe had been given around six times the amount of phenytoin that would be expected
  • Dr Helen Moore told family today she was ‘sincerely sorry’ for the mistakes
  • He died at Dewsbury Hospital in West Yorkshire after fitting at home for three hours
  • Dr Moore told inquest at Bradford Coroners’ Court she was confused about doseage
  • Inquest continues and is expected to finish this week

A senior doctor apologised in court today to the family of a five-year-old boy who died from an overdose of an epilepsy drug.

Bailey Ratcliffe died in hospital after he was given around six times the correct dose of phenytoin, an inquest was told.

Dr Helen Moore told Bailey’s mother Carrianne Rafcliffe she had ‘waited three-and-a-half years to see you face to face and say how sincerely sorry I am for these mistakes’.

She added: ‘I just wanted to say it’s with tremendous sorrow I find myself here today.’

Ms Ratcliffe and other members of her family were in tears as the doctor made the apology.

Dr Moore said she ‘got confused’ about the dosage of the emergency medication when Bailey was brought to Dewsbury Hospital in West Yorkshire suffering the worst fit his family had ever experienced.

Bailey, who had suffered from epilepsy since he was two, was fitting for three hours when he arrived in hospital on May 27, 2009.

baily 2Dr Moore, who was a paediatric registrar, described how he had been given other drugs by his family, paramedics and A&E staff to try and control the fitting but she decided it was time to move on to phenytoin.

But the doctor admitted she made a mistake in the dosage instructions when she asked a junior doctor to prescribe the drug.

 Dr Moore told the hearing at Bradford Coroners’ Court how she thinks she got confused in her mind with the procedures for administering a different drug used in cases of severe asthma.

She said she ‘made a mistake’, adding: ‘I just got confused. I don’t know why – on this day, at that time.’

Toxicologist Richard Sykes told the inquest the level of phenytoin in his blood was ‘considerably excessive’.

He said a sample of Bailey’s blood after his death contained at least six times the expected level of phenytoin.

The court heard how Bailey was transferred to a paediatric ward in the hospital but, later that afternoon he began to deteriorate and stopped breathing.

A full resuscitation team was called in but it could not save his life.

Under questioning from Bradford Coroner Peter Straker, Dr Moore said it had been a very busy day as she was the only paediatric registrar on duty.

She said it was ‘a day that had some stress elements, a lot going on I needed to try and cover’.

She said her department was already dealing with premature twins which were causing concern when Bailey was brought in.

She said her consultant stayed with the twins and was not involved with Bailey in the accident and emergency department.

Dr Moore added: ‘If I ever make a mistake I want to know about it so we don’t cause the trauma we’ve caused today.’

Pathologist Professor Philip Batman told the court Bailey’s cause of death was phenytoin toxicity complicated by his epilepsy.

The inquest continues and is expected to finish later this week.

Source: Daily Mail Online By Becky Evans

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