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Published on 23 July 2008

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Mother blames wrong drugs for death


A disabled teenager with a predicted lifespan of 20 years had his life cut short after suffering a reaction to drugs doctors gave him by mistake, an inquest has heard.

Alexander Newton, 18, who suffered from Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, began to think he was a dog after being given sedatives at the Royal United Hospital, his mother told a coroner.

Pamela Newton said doctors confessed to her they had made “a mistake” in the treatment of her son – although a pathologist claimed taking the drugs played no part in his death 15 days later.

The teenager from Corston, near Bath, Somerset, was admitted to hospital on November 3, 2005, for assessment after suffering breathing difficulties.

He was given the drugs zopiclone, a sedative, and co-codamol, a painkiller, the following day but suffered a respiratory arrest.

Mrs Newton told the hearing at Flax Bourton Village Hall, in Flax Bourton, Bristol, doctors delved into their text books to find a solution, as her son began to suffer delusions that he was a dog. He also began to think he was being attacked by a bird.

Pathologist Dr Hugh White said that the arrest after taking the drugs did not cause his death over a fortnight later.

Duchenne’s sufferers experience a progressive deterioration in muscle function and have a lifespan of about 20 years.

Copyright PA Business 2008

Royal United Hospital

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