THE family of an 82-year-old woman who died after being given an overdose of a prescription drug at an Oswald-twistle nursing home have yet to decide whether to take civil action against those involved.
Grandmother Eveline Birtwell died in August 2001 in Blackburn Royal Infirmary after being admitted from the White Ash Brook Nursing Home.
Staff at the Thwaites Road nursing and residential home were interviewed by police after the hospital reviewed her medical records, but the decision was made not to prosecute.
Speaking after the first day of an inquest into her death in Clitheroe on Wednesday, the family's barrister Miss Karen Boyle said: "We will wait till we hear what is disclosed at the rest of the inquest before we decide what action, if any, to take."
Coroner Michael Singleton heard from Mrs Anita Raven, of Cranbourne Drive, Church, that her mother, who suffered from dementia, was taken to BRI after collapsing and then moved to an intermediate bed at White Ash Brook.
Hospital doctors had decided to remove from her medication a drug called Diltiazem, which relaxes heart muscles and lowers the pulse rate. But in a written statement Dr Kathryn Morgan said there had not been time to write the change into Mrs Birtwell's notes.
Mrs Birtwell was said to have been stable when released from the hospital, but it was pointed out that someone suffering from dementia should not have been sent to the home in the first place.
Mrs Janet Briggs, matron at White Ash Brook, said Mrs Birtwell had arrived with medical records showing she was prescribed just three drugs from the hospital.
But the inquest heard nurse Deborah Jackson admitted writing two drugs onto Mrs Birtwell's medication record, something that should only be done by a doctor. The matron said she was "devastated" about this.
Dr John Dixon, a GP at Myrtle House, Accrington, and part- owner of the home, said he could not recall writing a prescription for one of the drugs.
The home's other part-owner, Dr Arthur Manuel, who also practises from Myrtle House, told the inquest he signed the two entries made by the nurse Deborah Jackson, a few days later, when he also prescribed an antibiotic for Mrs Birtwell.
He said: "I might have been distracted, I noticed there were two items unsigned. I didn't pay enough attention to what the drugs were. I never thought for a moment that a nurse would write on the drugs chart."
Mrs Birtwell was re-admitted to BRI four days after she had been moved out to the nursing home. She had a very slow pulse rate and her blood pressure was very low. All the hospital's efforts to speed up her heart failed.
A pathology report concluded the cause of death was inadequacy of blood supply, due to the underlying disease processes narrowing her blood vessels and an overdose of Diltiazem.
- The inquest was set to continue yesterday.