General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) confirms fitness to practise investigations are “ongoing” in response to an inquest into deaths caused by “excess consumption of codeine” of a former healthcare professional.
Former practice nurse Katie Emma Corrigan sadly passed away on August 9 last year. A coroner’s report had a long history of chronic pain from a neck complaint together with anxiety and depression. She developed an addiction to pain-relieving medication, notably Zapain.
At inquest, it was accepted in evidence by her GP that there had been occasions when Mrs Corrigan had been prescribed too much medication and also periods when she had requested repeat prescriptions prematurely.
When the weaknesses in the GP prescribing system were identified, the GP refused to prescribe further Zapain without a discussion with Mrs Corrigan. She refused to engage with the GP and no further prescriptions were issued.
It was also heard in evidence that Mrs Corrigan had been found to have forged prescriptions during her employment as a Practice Nurse at a surgery in Penzance in order to obtain further prescription medication illicitly. This led the NMC to strike her off the Nursing Register.
Chemist & Druggist reported that a spokesperson for the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) said that the regulator has “been in direct contact with the coroner following the inquest into Katie’s death to assist with the coroner’s enquiries”.
“We also have ongoing fitness-to-practise (FtP) cases but are not able to provide further information at this stage of the ongoing investigations,” the spokesperson said, adding that the GPhC expresses its “sincere sympathies to the family of Katie Corrigan”.
Coroner Andrew Cox sent his report to health minister Nadine Dorries on February 17.
Mr Cox argued that the government should take action to prevent future deaths from happening and following his conversation with an NHS officer, a number of recommendations were made, including:
- Some schedule 4 and 5 drugs, such as codeine tablets and morphine oral solution, should be regulated as schedule 3 drugs
- All online prescribing services, “regardless of where in the world” they are, should be regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) if they are accessible by patients based in England
- The status of codeine linctus should change from pharmacy (P) medicine to POM