Coronation Street viewers may have missed the real medical mistake amidst the fury over Abi Franklin’s drug trolley scene, says leading medical law firm Patient Claim Line.
On last Friday’s episode, viewers were left baffled after a doctor left a drug tray containing morphine unattended by Abi’s bed. Abi, who is a recovering drug addict, then stole morphine from the trolley, which she is seen taking in a later episode.
But medical negligence expert Jennifer Smith says that, whilst viewers were shocked at the unattended drugs tray and branded the scene unrealistic, there is a real and subtle form of negligence that happened in this scene.
“There was a failure to sufficiently assess Abi when she was observed as visibly upset and distressed on the ward,” explains Jennifer.
“The check seemed casual and rushed without a sufficient assessment. Given that the doctor knew the background (on the day of the accident, she was meant to say goodbye to her biological children who were moving to Australia with their adoptive parents), and she was clearly in visible distress. There should have been an assessment with a reasoned review as to whether she needed a counsellor.”
Whilst viewers were outraged over the ridiculousness of the unattended drug trolley, Abi’s mental health misdiagnosis is a very real occurrence that happens to patients in day to day life.
“There was a failure to sufficiently assess Abi when she was observed as visibly upset and distressed on the ward; and in leaving a controlled drug unlocked in close proximity and unsupervised. The doctors ought to have been aware from her records that she had a history of drug abuse and the doctor who passed by confirmed he was aware of the circumstances around her admission.”
So, how far-fetched is the storyline that drugs would be left unattended on a hospital floor? Jennifer comments:
“This does appear to be deliberately far-fetched for the purpose of furthering the storyline for the character, who had a history of drug addiction. However, there are detailed NICE guidelines (2016) which sets out a full review into the storage and administration of a controlled drug with reference to applicable statute, including the Misuse of Drugs Act. Morphine is a class A controlled drug and therefore illegal to have in possession without prescription.”
“Hospitals have policies regarding the storage of controlled drugs, which must comply with the Misuse of Drugs Act and associated regulations. This includes ensuring the controlled drugs are in a locked cupboard and no other medicines should be stored in the controlled drugs cupboard. High and low strength should be stored on a separate shelf or in different bags to avoid mix up. There should also be stock records with discrepancies reported.”
“With all checks in place, it seems very unlikely the controlled drug would just be left with other standard medications on an open trolley.”
“Even in an emergency setting, it would be unlikely this would happen in real-life.”
Jennifer also highlights the implications of morphine addiction, and what may be in store for Abi.
“There are potentially devastating physical and mental effects of addiction. Physical effects can include hallucinations, weakened immune system and alternating periods of consciousness. Mental and social effects can include self-harm to obtain a prescription, inability to concentrate and withdrawal from friends and family.”
“There may also be criminal implications for her as she has stolen a class A controlled drug.”
Jennifer also argues that Abi could seek legal aid for the negligent treatment she received in hospital, which could help her to get more support.
“As the hospital should have had safeguards in place for the storage of a controlled drug, there may be a claim for injuries she has suffered from taking the morphine. If she becomes addicted, there may be need for paid treatment to help her come off the drug with associated counselling, and also if she loses her job as a mechanic due to being an addict/making a dangerous error under the influence of the drug, there may be loss of earnings. All the above would be considered in the assessment of the compensation value.”
If you or someone you love has experienced a misdiagnosis similar to Coronation Street’s storyline, then Patient Claim Line can help. Speak to a legal advisor for free on 0330 107 0052 or visit the website for further advice.