Family of 86-year-old who died following allergic reaction to antibiotic welcome review after inquest's findings
AN investigation into how an 86-year-old died after being prescribed an antibiotic she was allergic to will be re-visited following an inquest into her death.
Retired school bursar Margaret Noble died on May 19 last year after taking the medication prescribed for a urinary tract infection.
Eight hours after she took the pills, medics were called to the Ladysmith Care Home, in Grimsby, because she had suffered a heart attack.
A post mortem examination revealed she died from hypertensive heart disease and that an adverse reaction to the medication, called nitrofurantoin, was a contributory factor.
The inquest heard Mrs Noble's medical records clearly stated she was allergic to nitrofurantoin and should not be prescribed the drug.
But it is understood she was given it under the brand name Macrodantin, and that Mrs Noble would not have realised it was nitrofurantoin she was taking.
Her family said they were shocked to see the fit and active pensioner in good health one day and then to receive a call to say she had died just days later.
At an inquest at Cleethorpes Town Hall, coroner Paul Kelly said: "She died from an adverse reaction to medication acting on a pre-existing chronic condition."
Mr Kelly said he will ask the safeguarding board at North East Lincolnshire Council – which works with North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group to oversee social care in the borough – to provide an update of its investigation into Mrs Noble's death.
The inquest heard she had suffered an allergy to the drug in July 2010, which was noted on her medical records. This reaction had been sufficient for her GP to stop her from taking the medicine.
Prior to her death, Mrs Noble had changed GP, moving from Dr Matthew's Surgery to the Ashwood Surgery, and had also used a different pharmacy to obtain medication than which she would normally use.
Her son, Roger, told the inquest: "I am an electrical contractor and do not have any medical experience, but if my mum was happy and healthy in a care home one day and is given medication and later dies, I would have thought it was something to do with the medication.
"She had a reaction to the pills. She should not have been given them."
Mrs Noble was the former bursar at Whitgift School and had been involved in the running of Whitgift Film Theatre.
"She was a bright, intelligent woman and up to the day she died she was perfectly normal," Mr Noble added.
He said that by the time the paramedics arrived, her neck was so swollen they could not fit a tube into her airway.
Her daughter-in-law, Helen, who works as a nurse, said Mrs Noble had been fit and well the Thursday before her death.
She said: "The next thing we get is a phone call to say that she has just passed away.
"There was no indication that she had been ill and nothing to let us know she was on medication. It came as a complete shock.
"She would not have known that nitrofurantoin goes by the brand name Macrodantin."
She told how her mother-in-law was really happy living at the care home.
She added: "She loved them all there. They did everything they could for her. The paramedics did all they could."
Neither the Ashwood Surgery and Ladysmith Care Home were asked to give evidence at the inquest. They declined to comment when approached by the Grimsby Telegraph.
PATIENTS put their lives in the trust of the medical professionals who are there to treat them.
Let’s face it – they have little choice in the matter, especially in an emergency situation when care is urgently required.
In such life or death situations the margin for error is nil – there is simply no room for a mistake, an indecisive action or a wrong judgement call.
A person’s life rests on the split second decision taken by the professional who has been called.
This is no doubt – that is a huge amount of pressure to put on the shoulders of any human being.
However, medical professionals enter into their chosen career knowing that their working lives will rise and fall on the strength of making decisions under immense pressure and with little time – they are trained to do so and it is expected of them.
The family of Margaret Noble are quite right to ask questions of those who treated her – let us hope they receive satisfactory answers.
What is your experience of the medical profession – good or bad. Let us know and comment on this story.