NHS inquiry after claims girl died of overdose

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The Independent Online
Health chiefs have launched an investigation into claims a five- year-old girl died after she was accidentally given a massive drugs overdose in hospital.

Noorjehan Khan died in her father's arms at King's College Hospital, south-east London, after she was allegedly given 10 times her usual dose of a drug at South Cleveland Hospital, Middlesbrough.

NHS bosses said today that an internal inquiry would investigate the overdose claims alongside a police probe mounted by Scotland Yard and Cleveland Police. Detectives were called in after a post-mortem examination failed to reveal the exact cause of death. Further tests were being carried out.

John Gibb, divisional manager of South Tees Hospital NHS Trust, said: "As well as co-operating with the police we are conducting our own inquiries. I believe a formal inquiry has been commenced." He would not comment on claims that Noorjehan, who had been seriously ill since she was six months old, had been the victim of a blunder.

"She was only with us a short while and we are all extremely sorry that she died," he said.

Noorjehan was admitted to South Cleveland suffering from giant cell hepatitis and complications on 30 July while she was in the Middlesbrough area visiting relatives.

Among her medication, she had to be given 0.3mg of a drug called Tacrolimus twice a day, dissolved in water.

Her parents say they saw a nurse at South Cleveland using a syringe bigger than usual, and expressed their concern to staff. Noorjehan's condition worsened with severe stomach pains and she was transferred to King's College on 6 August. She was given drugs but slipped into a coma and died.

Tests later revealed high levels of Tacrolimus in her blood. A doctor at King's College was allegedly told by South Cleveland that there had been a "misunderstanding over the dosage". According to the Express newspaper, staff had given her 3mg, instead of 0.3mg, of Tacrolimus during the six days she was at South Cleveland.