Claim over missed diazepam

...Mr B was a drug addict and claimed that on the first day of admission to the prison the doctor failed to issue a prescription for the diazepam being used to treat his addiction...

A doctor working in the prison service contacted the MDDUS after being notified that solicitors representing a former inmate had contacted the governor in regard to a potential legal claim.

Mr B was a drug addict and claimed that on the first day of admission to the prison the doctor failed to issue a prescription for the diazepam being used to treat his addiction. This caused him to suffer withdrawal symptoms including a fit in which he fell and broke two front teeth.

Mr B claimed that he informed the doctor about his addiction and ongoing detoxification treatment. He claimed that the doctor said he would check with Mr B’s GP and only on receiving confirmation would he then issue the prescription. Mr B also provided a urine sample which confirmed his drug use.

Analysis and outcome

The doctor had no specific recollection of the case but prison medical records indicated that he had noted Mr B’s condition along with the urine results and was given contact details for the prisoner’s GP. It appeared clear that the doctor had failed to act on this information and issue the prescription, and this indeed had lead to Mr B’s subsequent seizure.

The doctor admitted liability and the matter was settled for a modest sum.

Key points

  • Check carefully the medication history of all prisoners coming into custody.
  • Be aware of the dangers of sudden withdrawal of benzodiazepines in addicts.

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