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12 November 2010
The family of a man from north west London who died of a seizure after he was prescribed a “dangerous combination” of three different drugs has been awarded £500,000 agreed damages.
Theo Osgerby, who was 29 when he was found dead at home in May 2005 by his daughter, Elise, was the victim of “error after error”, Deputy Judge Richard Lissack QC said at London’s High Court.
Mr Osgerby’s widow, Sarah, had sued GPs Subathira Ratnarajan and Don Hettiarachchi over treatment provided at the Woodland Surgery, Greenwich, south-east London.
Her counsel, Owain Thomas, said that Mr Osgerby had been prescribed the anti-depressant Zyban as an aid for giving up smoking but had already been taking Citalopram, which is known to lower the seizure threshold, for some considerable time.
Counsel said that when Zyban was prescribed, a computer generated warning came up which said it should only be prescribed if there was compelling justification for doing so. He said that the warning was “either ignored or completely misinterpreted”, as Mr Osgerby should never have been prescribed Zyban.
As it was, Mr Osgerby developed a reaction and was prescribed an anti-histamine for a rash, which also had the effect of lowering the seizure threshold. This meant that he was exposed to a dangerous combination of drugs which interacted with each other and lowered the seizure threshold.
Mr Thomas said that there had been admissions of breach of duty and negligence by the two doctors. “These negligent failures cost this young man his life and cost this family dear.”
Philippa Whipple QC, for the GPs, said that Mr Osgerby’s death was a tragedy for Mrs Osgerby, 36, and 15-year-old Elise, who live at College Lane, Kentish Town, north west London, for Mr Osgerby’s brother, Jay, and for everyone who knew him.
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