Pregnant woman dies from taking painkillers
Published: 09 Nov 2011 10:45 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Nov 2011 10:45 GMT+01:00
A doctor who failed to inquire if a woman was pregnant has been rapped by Swedish health authorities for prescribing painkillers by phone leading to the death of the woman and her nearly full-term foetus.
In May 2010, the woman went into cardiac arrest and collapsed on her kitchen floor.
She was rushed to the emergency room, where doctors performed an emergency caesarian section in a desperate attempt to save the life of her nearly full-term foetus.
However, both the woman and the child died.
A subsequent autopsy revealed that the woman had died from a lack of oxygen to the brain caused by drug poisoning.
Upon further analysis, doctors discovered the woman had been taking the morphine-like painkiller Tramadol.
The woman had last visited her local health clinic in the summer of 2007, at which point she was prescribed the painkiller to help her cope with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), despite the fact that the medication is known to make the condition worse.
The doctor continued to renew the woman's prescription via telephone, but never asked whether the woman was pregnant.
In 2009 and 2010, other doctors prescribed the woman sleeping pills and cough medicine that contained ethyl morphine, without ever seeing the woman in person or inquiring if she was pregnant or on birth control.
Following the woman's death, the incident was reported to Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), which concluded that the doctor who prescribed the Tramadol had acted inappropriately in her treatment of the woman.
In its report, the health board explained that Tramadol carries a risk of addiction and treatment “should be reviewed frequently”.
In addition, the drug “should not be given during pregnancy” because of the risks it poses to the foetus.
“That a doctor should inquire about pregnancy and contraception when writing prescriptions for fertile women is basic knowledge for the trade,” the Health Board wrote.
Following the incident, the health clinic has also changed its procedures so that women are always asked whether or not they are pregnant before renewing prescriptions over the phone.