THURSDAY MARCH 22
BY STEVE BIRD
A FILIPINO nurse brought in to help to ease NHS staff shortages administered a fatal dose of morphine to a woman who was not prescribed the powerful painkiller, an inquest was told yesterday .
Janet Araneta, 30, was working part-time at a private nursing home. She accidently gave the drug to Margaret Jarvis, 68, because she had the same first name as the cancer patient who should have taken it, the hearing in Gillingham was told. The Filipino nurse, a mother of two, realised her error moments afterwards and raised the alarm.
Mrs Jarvis was taken to hospital and kept under observation for 12 hours before being released. But it was not until 36 hours after being given the tablets, which slowly release the drug into the body, that she developed symptoms.
Mrs Jarvis died days later after developing pneumonia as a result of the morphine. She had been at the home for eight months suffering from multiple sclerosis and diabetes.
Miss Araneta was flown in from the Philippines to work at Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, Kent, in August 1999.
She augmented her salary by working part-time at Frindsbury Hall nursing home in Strood, Kent. She gave Mrs Jarvis 600mg of morphine in tablet form while working nights in April last year. During the hearing, she was asked why she had given the pills to Mrs Jarvis, she replied: “Because she was the Margaret I knew. As far as I knew, I hadn’t seen any other Margaret. I said ‘Margaret, it is time for your tablets’ and she said ‘What tablets?’ ‘Your painkillers’, I replied. “After she took the tablets, I went out of the room.
“I passed Margaret Marsh’s bedroom and I wondered why her TV and light were still on. All of a sudden I realised I should have given the morphine to Margaret Marsh, not Margaret Jarvis. After I realised the mistake, I ran upstairs and told the other nurse, Jacqui Stacey, what I’d done.”
Stephen Peck, the Coroner, asked if she was aware that guidelines stated a photograph should have been included in patients’ notes for easier identification when administering drugs.
Miss Araneta insisted she had never been shown the nursing home’s guidelines.
The inquest continues.
Copyright 2001 Times Newspapers Ltd.