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Drugs should have helped Beatrice

PUBLISHED: 20:50 17 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:12 03 March 2010

DEPRESSED pensioner Beatrice Rush could have been killed by the drugs that were supposed to improve her life.

The 83-year-old died from pneumonia and acute liver failure in July, an inquest heard.

By JESSICA NICHOLLS

health reporter

jessica.nicholls@eveningstar.co.uk

DEPRESSED pensioner Beatrice Rush could have been killed by the drugs that were supposed to improve her life.

The 83-year-old died from pneumonia and acute liver failure in July, an inquest heard.

It found that Mrs Rush probably had a hypersensitive reaction to the anti-depressant drug Mirtazapine.

She had been prescribed the drug among others while living at Monmouth Court nursing home, Ipswich.

At the inquest it was revealed that the nursing home came under the scrutiny of investigation by the National Care Standards Committee because of a number of complaints from Mrs Rush's family about the care she had received.

The family had concerns about the way her medication was handled. They feared that she could have been the victim of over-medication and also the fact that just days before her death, Mrs Rush had fallen out of her bed.

On hearing evidence Greater Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean was satisfied that it was not over-medication of drugs that had caused her death or the fact that she had fallen out of bed.

He said that none of the usual verdicts were appropriate in this case and said: "Mrs Rush died from pneumonia secondary to liver cell damage.

"The most likely cause of which was an unpredicted and unpredictable hypersensitive reaction to medication given to her for existing medical problems."

During her stay at Monmouth Court Mrs Rush had suffered from increasing depression and had started to become very agitated.

Increasing doses of drugs had been prescribed for her and when it was thought that they could have been making Mrs Rush become too hyperactive, other drugs were prescribed to help stabilise her mood.

She was also having problems sleeping and towards the end of her life could not sleep at all.

Mrs Rush had fallen out of bed three days before she died when a bed rail came away, allowing her to slip from the bed feet first.

She was put back into bed after being thoroughly checked over by the staff and found to be uninjured and kept under observation for 24 hours.

That night she was very agitated and did not sleep. She was kept in the day room until around 6am when she began to drop off to sleep.

The following day she had seemed drowsy. Home manager Alison Lovelock said she had slept well that night.

But the next day when they found they were unable to rouse her, her GP was phoned and she was taken to hospital where she later died.

Mrs Rush had been suffering from a form of pneumonia but none of the usual symptoms had presented themselves.

The post-mortem revealed her liver to have a mottled appearance, which could have indicated a hypersensitivity to the drugs she was taking.

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