A Fatal Accident Inquiry has criticised a leading private hospital in an investigation into the death of a drug addict.
Kieran Nichol was admitted to Castle Craig Hospital, a leading private rehabilitation clinic located in the Borders, in 2005 for a valium addiction. He discharged himself in October, but on 9 December was readmitted. He died two days later.
The Fatal Accident Inquiry heard that Mr Nichol was given three doses of the heroin substitute methadone in 24 hours, which an expert claimed was ‘too high’ given the uncertainty about Mr Nichol’s tolerance level. No urine sample was taken from Mr Nichol to check for heroin use before he was prescribed methadone and diazepam.
After being given the third dose of methadone, Mr Nichol became drowsy and began to stagger, when he was told to go to bed and sleep. An expert described the decision to put him to bed as ‘extraordinary’, and it should have become clear to staff that Mr Nichol was ‘becoming a medical emergency’.
The sheriff said that it was ‘difficult to identify anything that went significantly well’ in Mr Nichol’s treatment, and a ‘different decision or choice by a number of individuals could have made the difference’.
A spokesman for the hospital said it was considering the findings and would ensure any changes were in compliance with the sheriff’s recommendations. But Mr Nichol’s mother told the press ‘it shouldn’t take until a young man dies before changes are made.’
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