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Thompsons Solicitors have helped a Dundee family win damages from a local GP and pharmacist following their mother’s death from a lethal overdose of drugs.

Sprightly and active grandmother Catherine Rodger thought nothing of taking the morphine tablets her local doctor prescribed for her back pain.

But Dr Salahuddin Malik had wrongly written a prescription for tablets TEN times the correct strength and Mrs Rodger, 74, died within hours of taking her first deadly dose.

Now Mrs Rodger’s family have won undisclosed damages after successfully suing Dr Malik of Downfield Surgery in Dundee, who wrote the lethal prescription, and pharmacist Andrew Nixon who dispensed the massive overdose at the neighbouring Alliance Chemists.

Mrs Rodger’s daughter Rena Brady 42, of Stewart’s Lane, Lochee, Dundee spearheaded the legal action on behalf of her brothers John Rodger, 53, Philip 49, Tony 45, and their spouses.

Rena said: “Mum died three years ago but we are still all totally devastated at her loss and very, very angry at the GP and the chemist.

“We are a really close family and Mum was such a huge part of it. She lived in sheltered housing, but she never classed herself as ‘one of the old folk’

“She had only stopped working in a local shop a few years before her death, and she regularly walked over to look after my children before and after school.

“Anyone who met her just knew she had plenty of living to do, which makes it so hard to accept that she has been taken away from us through stupid and careless mistakes by professionals who must know lives are at stake if they get things wrong.

“They admitted negligence, but not that the drugs they prescribed were what killed Mum, and we just couldn’t accept that.”

Court papers show that for 18 months Catherine’s regular dose of painkillers was 10mg of morphine sulphate tablets but in November 2005 Dr Malik handwrote a prescription for two100mg morphine sulphate tablets to be taken twice a day. Andrew Nixon dispensed the drugs.

Mrs Rodger took the first of the tablets just before going to bed, but she was violently ill in the night and died just after 8.0am the following morning.

Mrs Brady, who is a data maintenance worker with Tayside police said: “We went to court because the fiscal decided not to prosecute either Dr Malik or Mr Nixon and the Crown Office refused to give us a fatal accident inquiry.

“We were told it wasn’t in the public interest to have an FAI, but we wanted one to warn people to check any prescriptions they receive. What could be more in the public interest than that?

“Before this I never even looked at anything I was prescribed, and we obviously didn’t realise till it was too late that Mum had been given a dose of morphine that is normally only given as palliative care to people who are dying from cancer.

“Now I don’t trust anything I get from a doctor or chemist and double check everything.”

The family’s solicitor Jayne Crawford of Thompsons Solicitors said: “When we raised the action the defenders took what I thought was a pretty callous line.

“Their case amounted to arguing that Mrs Rodger was an old woman with an underlying heart condition who would have died anyway.

“We had to produce a report from cardiologist Dr Stuart Hood of the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley whose opinion was that the overdose triggered her fatal heart attack and that if she had not taken the morphine she would not have died that night.

“He also stated that Mrs Rodger could have reasonably expected to live for another six years.

“At that stage the defenders agreed to an out of court settlement.” 

This Article was also covered by:

BBC News : Fatal morphine family win damages

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