Suicidal patient took fatal overdose after GP ‘prescribed 60 tablets without seeing him’

Amy Glendinning June 17, 2011

A doctor prescribed 60 tablets to a suicidal patient without seeing him just two days before he used them to kill himself, an inquest heard. David Donohue, who suffered drug and alcohol addiction and depression, took all the medication and died after GP Kamprath Sreedharan authorised the prescription to the patient’s mother over the phone. The GP had previously been warned by mental health specialists not to give more than two weeks of medication – 30 tablets – after Mr Donohue overdosed on painkillers a few weeks earlier. But Dr Sreedharan did not examine or speak to Mr Donohue, a 30-year-old dad of one, and let his mother Edith Kowalski have a month’s supply when she promised to keep them under lock and key. Mr Donohue, of East Park Close, Ardwick, died in December 2002 after taking the Heminevrin tablets – which are used to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms – with whiskey. Dr Sreedharan, of Brunswick Medical Centre in Ardwick, told the inquest in Manchester: “I did not see the patient. His mother telephoned and said she needed a large supply of medication because of the Christmas holiday period and he was not sleeping. “At first I said she couldn’t have a prescription until I had seen him but the mum said he didn’t need a visit. “I told the mother that if he took the medication Heminevrin and alcohol it would kill him but she said she would make sure he didn’t drink. “She said she would keep the medication under lock and key. I was put in a situation where I couldn’t do any more than issue the medication. I couldn’t be a hard-hearted man to a caring mother.” Coroner Nigel Meadows asked Dr Sreedharan whether he had been aware that Mr Donohue’s mother had had mental health and alcohol problems of her own. When Dr Sreedharan said yes, Mr Meadows asked: “Did you not see a problem with giving this medication to the control of someone with problems of their own?” Dr Sreedharan replied: “No, she was a marvellous mother.” He said he also believed mother and son lived together – despite a different address given for Mr Donohue on his medical records. The inquest heard how paramedics were called after the overdose was discovered but Mr Donohue was instead put in a police van after allegedly attacking medical staff. He was later taken to the Manchester Royal Infirmary but was found to be dead on arrival. He had made several previous suicide attempts in the months before his death. He had been hospitalised after overdosing on prescription painkillers weeks earlier given by a locum GP while Dr Sreedharan was on holiday in Australia. Dr Sreedharan said he did not know the name of the locum who had filled in while he was away or why Mr Donohue had been given the painkillers. » Proceeding


Copy Manchester Evening News Amy Glendinning

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