A hospital has been fined £45,000 after the death of a leukaemia patient who was given five times the amount of drugs she needed.
Royal Bournemouth Hospital Trust ignored repeated warnings from inspectors raising concerns about the unit where the 80-year-old patient, who was taking part in a clinical trial, was given the wrong dose on two separate occasions.
The trust was fined at Bournemouth Crown Court on Monday after pleading guilty in August to supplying a medicinal product that was not of the nature or quality demanded.
Investigations revealed that, while staff spotted the incorrect dosage, they were wrongly told it was fine, meaning the pensioner, who was terminally ill, was given five times the prescribed amount over four days rather than a lower dose over 10 days.
She was admitted to hospital on 4 January 2018 and died less than two weeks later.
An investigation by the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) found staff were working “beyond capacity”.
Inspections in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017 all found the unit was running over capacity and highlighted it as an issue that urgently needed addressing to prevent any mistakes being made.
Andy Young of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “This was an innovative treatment, but in this case a serious error was made by the hospital when it was dispensing the medicine.
“The Royal Bournemouth Hospital Trust had plenty of chances to fix the problems within the unit, but failed to do so.”
The CPS built its case around the MHRA investigation, which identified the pressures on staff and the failure of the unit’s quality control system.
Alyson O’Donnell, medical director at the trust, said: “During the course of a medical trial, we gave a patient suffering with a terminal illness medication of a higher dose than had been prescribed and while this was within prescriptive guidelines, it was not intended that the patient should have received this dose.
“We are very sorry for the distress this caused the patient and their family. We immediately notified the relevant authorities when the error was noted and have worked closely with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency throughout its investigation. A full internal review has been undertaken and changes have been made to prevent a similar incident occurring in the future.”