Mother Dies of Neurological Disorder Probably Caused by Having Antidepressant Stopped

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EDP24

ANTHONY CARROLL

21 September 2007 09:02

A health authority has admitted negligence and agreed to pay out an undisclosed sum after a Yarmouth mother died in hospital when doctors suddenly withdrew the drugs on which she was dependent.

Heather Thompson was been being treated at Northgate Hospital, Yarmouth, in July 2004 after she started to suffer from depression.

The mother-of-one was on anti-depressants at the time and doctors planned to gradually reduce her medication, but instead her drugs were stopped immediately, which led to her collapsing six days after being admitted.

Following the collapse, the 50-year-old was taken to Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, where she died on July 24, 2004 from a neurological disorder probably caused by having her drugs stopped overnight.

Yesterday the Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust admitted it was at fault for the death and agreed in principle to pay out an undisclosed sum to Mrs Thompson’s 12-year-old daughter.

Health bosses said lessons had been learned from the incident.

An investigation revealed that doctors stopped giving Mrs Thompson medication as part of a ‘drugs holiday’ policy, despite deep concerns being raised by her family.

The inquiry discovered that staff at Northgate Hospital kept scant medical records about Mrs Thompson, initially doctors thought she was only suffering from a urinary tract infection and there was a lack of supervision and monitoring.

After the investigation Norfolk solicitors Kester Cunningham John were hired by the family to make a claim of clinical negligence against the mental health trust.

Sarah Coles, who represented the family, said: “Quite simply Heather’s death should not have happened.

“If she had received appropriate care and treatment by the staff at Northgate Hospital she would still be alive today and her daughter would still have her mother.”

Mrs Thompson’s partner and daughter have now moved to the King’s Lynn area in an effort to rebuild their lives.

Trust spokesman Pat Lowman said: “We reiterate our sincere sympathy for the family’s loss.”

The full details of the payment settlement will be approved by a court at a later date.