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Whetstone grandmother's death 'nobody's fault'
A son and daughter accused a doctor of showing a “total lack of care” when prescribing their mother anti-psychotic medication at an inquest into her death yesterday.
Helen Sicka, of Oakleigh Road North, Whetstone, died on August 13, 2012 - six months after she was given the drugs to help control hallucinations and anxiety.
But Coroner Andrew Walker reassured her GP, Dr Allan Daitz, he did “everything he could” and that her death was not his fault.
The 69-year-old grandmother, who had painful arthritis, took four times the normal dose of paracetamol and dihydrocodeine in the days before she died, which caused fatal liver damage.
Her son, Sanjay Sicka, told Barnet Coroners Court: “She was always very methodical about her pills and hated taking too many, so it doesn’t make sense.”
Dr Daitz prescribed Mrs Sicka a 12-day supply of the two painkillers in January 2012, which she had been taking on and off since 2007.
Mrs Sicka had a breakdown in 1983 and after spending time in hospital, she was discharged with a very low dose of an anti-psychotic medication.
After her daughter, who lives in Australia, was diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2012, she told Dr Daitz she was “feeling low” so he upped her dose to 6mg.
But in March 2012 she returned complaining of a dry mouth, blurred vision, hallucinations and anxiety, so he changed her medication and referred her to a psychiatrist.
Her daughter, who was not named during proceedings, said: “What if those symptoms weren’t another psychotic episode, but side effects of the dihydrocodeine?
“It shows a total lack of care, she trusted you. She had a fear of taking too many pills so she wouldn’t have asked for more anti-psychotic drugs.
“She was alarmed - she said you upped her dose and she did not like it - she only said she was feeling low.
“She was referred too quickly to psychiatric care. That could have aggravated things.”
But Dr Daitz replied: “I would not have upped her dosage if she had not asked for it. I gave her a 12-day supply of dihydrocodeine and the side effects would have started earlier than March.
“I referred her to the psychiatric team because most GPs feel uncomfortable dealing with problems of this nature alone.”
Psychiatrist Dr Watkin said: “There’s nothing in my mind to suggest anything abnormal happened. She was adamant she didn’t want to go back to hospital so asked us to up her dosages.
“I don’t think she was referred to my care too quickly. We did our best to treat her holistically, because she had a vulnerability to hallucinations.”
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Andrew Walker said: “She unknowingly took too much pain medication, but the prescription prescribed in January wasn’t enough to cause damage. It’s likely she had a surplus.
“This isn’t anyone’s fault.”
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