Paramedics used out-of-date morphine to give pain relief

NEAS paramedics have given patients 75 doses of out-of-date drugs

NEAS paramedics have given patients 75 doses of out-of-date drugs

First published in News
Last updated

THE North East Ambulance Service has reported itself to the Care Quality Commission after discovering its paramedics had given patients 75 doses of out-of-date drugs, including morphine.

Bosses at the NEAS said the problem was discovered during a routine audit of drugs earlier this year.

Ambulance officials said no patients had been put at risk due to the drugs being out-of-date but acknowledged that their potency to provide pain relief may have been impaired.

By the time ambulance bosses had realised they had a problem – and taken action to stop it happening again - a total of 75 doses had been administered by 26 paramedics.

The medicines dispensed by paramedics which were found to be out-of-date included two forms of morphine and a form of diazepam known as Diazamul.

Morphine is used to relieve severe pain that can be caused by heart attack, injury, surgery or chronic disease such as cancer.

Diazepam is used as an anti-anxiety drug, a muscle relaxant and as an anti-convulsant.

In a statement to The Northern Echo the NEAS said: “During a routine audit by NEAS, a number of out-of-date controlled drugs were found to have been administered to patients. In total 75 doses had been administered by 26 paramedics.

“The specific medicines were Morphine, Oramorph oral suspension and Diazamuls. No patients were put at risk due to the drugs being out of date, though their potency to provide pain relief may have been less effective.

“The Care Quality Commission and Monitor – a health watchdog – are aware of the situation, along with our commissioners.

“Since the error came to light we have tightened-up our controlled medicines checking procedures.”

A spokeswoman for the Care Quality Commission said: “We can confirm we were alerted by the NEAS in April.

"We asked them for an action plan and after reviewing that plan we were reassured that the actions taken by the trust to mitigate the risk were robust.”

But the CQC said their inspectors would be returning to the NEAS to make a follow-up inspection of how the trust was keeping drugs secure, including controlled drugs.

This followed an earlier visit by CQC inspectors to the trust in February which found the NEAS non-compliant in the storage of medicines.

Comments (4)

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7:37am Thu 31 Jul 14

budgiegirl says...

Like all public services they have been cut to the bone...things like this will happen across the board as staff are cut leaving less and less staff to do more and more work.
Like all public services they have been cut to the bone...things like this will happen across the board as staff are cut leaving less and less staff to do more and more work. budgiegirl
  • Score: 29

10:29am Thu 31 Jul 14

chapmansheader9 says...

Not ideal giving out of date medication, but if you're in agony I doubt if you'd insist on waiting for a new batch to arrive. Those poor souls in Gaza wouldn't be too bothered about the date on the label.
Not ideal giving out of date medication, but if you're in agony I doubt if you'd insist on waiting for a new batch to arrive. Those poor souls in Gaza wouldn't be too bothered about the date on the label. chapmansheader9
  • Score: 19

9:08pm Thu 31 Jul 14

bishop1 says...

agreed , they are stretched to the limits & mistakes do unfortunately happen .
wonder how long before the blood sucking claim merchants are on the case .
agreed , they are stretched to the limits & mistakes do unfortunately happen . wonder how long before the blood sucking claim merchants are on the case . bishop1
  • Score: 1

12:18am Fri 1 Aug 14

pandorica says...

But none the less they are trained to check the date on the drug, before administrating it, and they should be checking the drugs on board at the start of every shift. Nurses have to, these are no different.
But none the less they are trained to check the date on the drug, before administrating it, and they should be checking the drugs on board at the start of every shift. Nurses have to, these are no different. pandorica
  • Score: 1

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