Schizophrenic died after hospital drug injection

A PHYSICALLY healthy man of 29 died in mental hospital minutes after being given an injection of an anti-psychotic drug intended to calm him down.

Rupert Marshall, of south London, who was unemployed, died at Horton Hospital, Epsom, Surrey, on 30 January. He had voluntarily returned to hospital after a visit home to his mother who was ill. Two days later he was transferred to the Horton where he had been a regular in-patient.

At the inquest, opened yesterday at Epsom, the court heard that Mr Marshall had a history of schizophrenia. During his last eight hours, he was given anti-psychotic drugs, droperidol and haloperidol, as well as the tranquilliser diazepam and an anti-convulsant.

Dr Dick Shepherd, consultant pathologist at Guy's Hospital, who carried out a post-mortem examination on Mr Marshall, told the court that he found no signs of natural disease in any of Mr Marshall's organs. Some bruises and grazes on his body were consistent with Mr Marshall having been restrained.

From an examination of the medical records and tests carried out on samples of Mr Marshall's blood taken after his death, Dr Shepherd said he concluded that Mr Marshall had died after having been given doses of anti-psychotic drugs that were within normal therapeutic levels. Dr Shepherd said: 'One is left with an apparently fit young person, albeit one suffering from mental illness, who has died in close relationship to the injection of a drug and it is difficult to escape the conclusion that it was the injection that was in some way related to the death.'

The case was similar to others, Dr Shepherd said, in which sudden and unexpected death had followed the injection of droperidol. Mr Marshall had suffered an atypical reaction to the drug.

The inquest was adjourned until today.