NSW man died after electronic prescribing error, inquest hears

Counsel assisting suggests there were more than 15 missed opportunities to detect the error, a coroner has heard

A 54-year-old man died at a Sydney hospital after he was given another patient’s medication following routine knee surgery, a coroner has heard.

Counsel assisting Kirsten Edwards told Deputy State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan on Monday that she would hear evidence that Paul Lau died from a drug overdose after he was mistakenly given the medication of another, more complex patient.

The month before Mr Lau’s death, the hospital had introduced a new computer system for prescribing medication.

Ms Edwards said the anaesthetist in charge mistakenly entered details of a much stronger pain medication meant for another patient into Mr Lau’s electronic chart, reports the ABC.

The anaesthetist admitted he had not been given any formal training using the electronic prescribing system, nor had he sought any.

Ms Edwards suggested there were more than 15 missed opportunities to detect the fatal error in the hours leading to his death on 19 June 2015.

However she added, “none of these health professionals are on trial.

“People involved in the care of Paul have been responsible and accepted they made mistakes.”

A number of procedures at the hospital have reportedly been changed in the light of Mr Lau’s death.

The inquest has been set down for four days.

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