Coroner criticised doctors surgery for prescribing painkillers to woman who then died from overdose

A HAMPSHIRE coroner has criticised doctors for continuing to prescribe painkillers to a Southampton woman ahead of an accidental overdose, an inquest heard.

Monica Bignell died aged 58 at Southampton General Hospital after the overdose caused liver failure.

She was addicted to painkillers and had been using them as an anti-depressant, taking more pills per day than recommended.

When her last weekly prescription ran out she turned to an over-the-counter drug as a replacement but it proved fatal when she took too many.

The inquest heard GPs at Burgess Road Surgery were aware she was abusing the drug but continued to prescribe it and coroner Keith Wiseman said they were being “too indulgent”.

He said: “They seemed to have given here everything she wanted and more even to the extent of prescribing above the level they really felt best for Mrs Bignell, which they were clearly beginning to worry about.”

He added: “Perhaps the surgery should have been tougher with Mrs Bignell; perhaps they should have insisted that she only had a limited amount and explored a little more closely with her possible alternative drugs.”

Mrs Bignell, of Monks Way, Mansbridge, suffered from a number of problems, including high blood pressure, arthritis, two knee replacements and previous bouts of kidney and liver disease related to a past alcoholism. She also suffered a stroke in 2000 but recovered well.

The inquest heard doctors had warned her about her drug intake and had restricted her to weekly prescriptions to No one at the surgery responded to the Daily Echo's request for comment.

Her family are considering legal action but have not made a decision yet.

Mr Wiseman recorded a narrative verdict and said Mrs Bignell died accidentally in October.


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