'Overworked' pharmacist 'gave woman wrong pills'

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8 Dec 2016 - General

An "overworked" pharmacist made a tragic error and gave out the wrong pills to a grandmother who became ill within minutes and later died, a court has heard.

Martin White, 45, of Belfast Road, Muckamore, County Antrim, admitted supplying the wrong prescription drugs to Ethna Walsh, 67, in February 2014.

A defence lawyer said White was "an ordinary man who struggled because he worked too hard".

He will be sentenced later this month.

Antrim Crown Court heard Mrs Walsh had gone to the Clear pharmacy in Station Road, Antrim, and submitted a prescription for a drug called prednisolone.

But White mistakenly picked up a box of propranolol.

At home, Mrs Walsh's husband Joe gave her some of the tablets.

However, a prosecution lawyer said that within minutes, she had difficulty breathing. Her husband immediately phoned for an ambulance and she was taken to hospital, where she later died.

The lawyer said that White told police he must have mistakenly picked up the propranolol instead of the prednisolone as the two boxes have similar branding and were side-by-side on the shelf.

White claimed he had carried out the required checks under the Pharmacy Standard Operation Procedures, the court heard.

He had also complained about working in a cramped space and had recently seen his GP about his feelings of low mood, tiredness and fatigue.

An expert who investigated what had happened said accuracy checks should have been carried out but were not, and this had led to the tragic error.

However, the expert deemed that White was guilty only of "poor professional performance" as opposed to "professional misconduct".

'Destroyed with remorse'

A defence lawyer said that since the tragedy, White had been too frightened to return to work because he was so "racked with guilt". He said he had been receiving psychiatric help.

The lawyer said the pharmacist had expressly instructed him "to offer his abject apology to each and every member of Mrs Walsh's family... although he accepts it may not be very well received".

Earlier, the defence lawyer described his client as a man with a hitherto unblemished character.

He said that the tragic consequences of his mistake had left White "destroyed with remorse".

He was acutely aware that he was responsible for the tragedy "and will carry it for the rest of his life, and if he could turn the clock back he would", said his lawyer.

He said that White was "an ordinary man who struggled because he worked too hard... regularly working up to 60 hours a week... always on call."

"This is his first mistake after almost a quarter of a century of employment," he said.

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This story seems to have come right out of the pages of the checklist manifesto (i.e. But I might not have helped the incident as the person could have been too tired to perform the checklist effectively) I wonder what are the accuracy checks that sh...
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Actually these types of things happen and could be happen at anywhere in any field. But when a professional in the health care sector makes a mistake ultimately it values a life of someone. So the reason overworked can nit be excused. To minimize the...
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Awww. I can feel how Mr. White feel sorry and guilty about what happened. This is surely hard for both of the parties. For Mrs. Walsh family to accept the apology and the loss and for Mr. White that he can actually do something not to make this happe...
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As a health care provider, I sympathize with this man since he has no intentions of causing harm to anybody. However, it is important to realize that being overworked is in fact a risk factor for committing grave mistakes. From this story, I think th...
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Bless this man. I feel sorry for both. As for the Walsh family, I'm sure they feel so devastated about what happened and the trust to HCP's may never be regained 100%. As for Mr. White, I can't imagine how he is feeling right now. I would...
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