The family of a cancer patient killed by a drug overdose at a Birmingham hospital are due to receive a five-figure payout for his unnecessary death.
Father-of-three Paul Richards, aged 35, from Sutton Coldfield, was given five times the normal dose of fungal infection drug amphotericin at Heartlands Hospital sending his body into shock and killing him within hours in July 2007.
Mr Richards, a former IT consultant, was given the drug to combat the side effects of the chemotherapy treatment he was receiving at the hospital.
Widow Lisa Richards Everton said the settlement from the NHS would never replace the misery and loss suffered by herself or their three children Ben, 19, Mia, eight, and Ellie, four.
“Some people will think tens of thousands of pounds is a lot but as a measure of Paul’s life, no amount of money will ever make me happy and bring my husband back,” she said.
“I could never put a price on Paul’s life. Paul has been taken away from us and that’s why it is so tough.”
Fellow cancer patient Baljit Singh Sunner, aged 36, from Stechford, who had leukaemia, was also given the same dose of dangerous amphotericin and both men died within hours of each other on the same night.
Mrs Richards Everton said Mr Sunner’s family received a lower settlement a year ago because there were no children involved. She lodged a civil claim after an inquest ruled there had been gross failures by hospital medical staff.
New junior doctor Kiran Tawana prescribed Amphotericin after referring to an internet version of a medicines manual and nurses Vongai Gondo and Catherine Kunasta then made up the prescription without double-checking, the inquest was told. An inquest jury ruled the two deaths were accidental in which neglect played a part with gross failures by medical staff not to seek alternative advice or clarification on drug and dosage.
Mrs Richards Everton added: “The worst thing about this civil case is that I had to prove that Paul had more than a 51 per cent chance of surviving the Burkitt’s lymphoma cancer he was being treated for and going on to reach retirement age for the basis of the settlement. As far as the Government was concerned, Paul only had a small chance of survival. But I know he was a fighter and no matter how big or small his chance of survival, I believe he would have pulled through.”
University of Birmingham graduate Dr Tawana received a five-year warning from the General Medical Council while both nurses escaped being disciplined by the Nursing and Midwifery Council because “they said they were sorry”.
All still work in the NHS.
The deaths did prompt changes at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust running Heartlands Hospital, in Bordesley Green.
Lisa Dunn, hospital director, said: “We deeply regret that this incident occurred and would like to sincerely apologise again to the family of Paul Richards. Safety remains our top priority and we are committed to delivering the highest standards of care for all of our patients.”