Royal Free Hospital launches inquiry into ‘lethal’ drug overdose

The Royal Free Hospital has launched an investigation into claims that a disabled father-of-five was given a life-threatening overdose.

Mark Courtney, who was �severely brain damaged in 2007, went rigid when he was given 10 times the recommended dose of pain relief drugs on January 11 after being taken to the hospital with breathing problems.

His wife Chammelle, 38, claims two nurses have been suspended following the incident.

A Royal Free spokeswoman �refused to comment until the hospital has finished its own investigation.

Documents seen by the Ham&High confirm that the 37-year-old former lorry driver was prescribed 500mg of a pain relief drug, despite his wife’s claims that his usual dosage is 50mg.


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Mrs Courtney said: “They didn’t even notice they had given him an overdose. His eyes weren’t reacting. He went stiff as a board and his pupils were like pinpricks.”

She said his oxygen levels dropped dramatically and he was rushed to the resuscitation room and given medication to counter the effects of the overdose. He was released the following evening.

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“He would have died had I not have been there,” said Mrs Courtney, who lives in St Albans.

“The medication was administered because of an error made by nurses. That dosage was absolutely, categorically wrong.”

Mr Courtney suffered brain damage after an asthma attack in 2007 and now lives in a care home in Barnet.

Mrs Courtney was advised to switch off his life support machine, but refused. Her husband is unable to communicate and in need of constant care.

Mrs Courtney said: “If I was a patient there and they tried to give me a drug 10 times over my dose, I could have said something, but he is completely defenceless as he cannot speak.

“I even questioned the medication and I knew it looked like a high dosage, but they said this is right and I put my faith in the medical staff.

“It’s the first time he has been admitted there and it will be the last. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

She has lodged a formal �complaint with the hospital and has demanded action is taken against the medical staff involved.

A hospital spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that the incident was reported and an investigation was launched under our serious incident policy.

“Once the investigation has been concluded, we will share the findings with Mark Courtney’s family.”

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