Cocktail of medicines fatal

An Invercargill woman died after an inadvertent drug overdose on prescribed medication.

Otago-Southland Coroner David Crerar, in his formal written findings, said Sharon Alice Mary Riseley, 58, was found dead in her bed on June 16 last year.

The coroner found she died from an inadvertent drug overdose of the drugs tramadol, amitriptyline and codeine in association with cyclizine, ketamine, oxycodone and paracetamol.

He recommended a copy of his findings be considered by the Southern District Health Board. There was no evidence Riseley was advised about the risks of taking pain relief drugs prescribed or the possibility some of those she was prescribed and taking could have an additive effect, Crerar said.

The public should be made aware that even if drugs were taken strictly in accordance with a prescription, such drugs could have fatal consequences if taken in conjunction with other drugs, he said.

In June last year Riseley was discharged from Southland Hospital following surgery to her neck. She had been taking several medications for other medical issues. When Riseley was discharged, the hospital also prescribed pain relief medication tramadol and ondansetron, Crerar said.

"There is no evidence that Sharon Riseley knew or understood that the concomitant use of all the drugs was a danger to her. There is no evidence as to the counselling offered by the hospital or by the general practitioner in relation to recommended dosages or warning of combined additive effects."

Riseley was debilitated by her illness. "Other persons, not so debilitated, may have satisfactorily survived similar dosages."

The Southland Times