‘Drugs error did not kill baby’

Hanna Faheem
Hanna Faheem
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A mum has described the night her two-month-old baby died in her arms after being given 10 times the intended dose of morphine.

At Hanna Faheem’s inquest, the court heard how her mum, 38-year-old Naseem Akhtar, of Brightside, Sheffield, pleaded with doctors to help Hanna hours before she died.

Yesterday’s inquest, at Sheffield’s Medico-Legal Centre in Upperthorpe, heard Hanna had been given just a year to live when she was born with a chromosome condition known as Edward’s Syndrome in October 2012, an uncurable affliction which left her with three holes in her heart. Hanna developed a chest infection on December 16 , 2012, and Naseem called an ambulance.

She said the paramedic had not heard of her daughter’s condition and had to look it up, which she found ‘not very reassuring’.

At Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Naseem was given the option of putting her baby on an incubator, but was told Hanna would ‘never come off it’ and chose instead to hold her.

In a statement, read by assistant coroner Louise Slater, Naseem said: “I was crying and begging the doctor to save my child.

“I asked him to make Hanna better. I was not prepared to accept her death.

“He said if I really did not want morphine for Hanna it was okay and we could wait and see how she was.”

She told the court that at about 1.20am she asked for something to help clear the phlegm in Hanna’s throat, and a nurse then gave her two syringes, though she was not told it was morphine.

Naseem said: “She scrunched her nose up like I had never seen her do before and shuddered. It looked like an electric shock.”

The inquest heard doctors had intended to give Hanna 0.35mg of morphine, but this had been ‘verbalised’ as 3.5mg – 10 times the intended dose.

Dr Naomi Carter, who examined Hanna after her death, said there was ‘no dispute’ the dose had been 10 times higher than intended, but gave the cause of death as bronchopneumonia, with a secondary cause of Edward’s Syndrome. She said there was a decision taken during the night to give Hanna ‘palliative care’ – accepting the baby was going to die.

Dr Stephen Morley, a toxicologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospital, said there was ‘insufficent evidence’ of morphine overdose. But Naseem said she did not know Hanna was going to die and sent her husband and family home.

She said: “I closed my eyes and prayed for Hanna. The nurses took his mask off and I looked down and saw her eyes were rolling into the back of her head.

“I realised my baby was dying in my arms. I could not believe what was happening.

“Hanna’s eyes finally closed and she was gone. I was devastated.”

The inquest continues.