Wrexham pensioner 'stockpiled' painkillers, inquest hears

Reporter:

Claire Gallagher

A WREXHAM pensioner who died of an overdose at one time “stockpiled” a painkiller in her bra and handbag, an inquest heard.

Patricia Wendy Lewis died in Wrexham Maelor Hospital but the hospital was not in any way responsible for the fatal level of painkiller in her body, a coroner said.

Instead North East Wales coroner John Hughes concluded Mrs Lewis might have been addicted to painkiller Tramadol and could have taken too much in addition to the normal dosage given to her at hospital.

Mrs Lewis, of retirement home Springfield in Garden Road, Rhosddu, died suddenly at the hospital on September 26.

Her family told a Wrexham inquest Mrs Lewis, 74, had stockpiled drugs including Tramadol at her home.

She was at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital following a fall earlier in September which left her with a spine fracture.

Mrs Lewis had also fallen earlier in July and was taken to Deeside Hospital.
Nurses there found Tramadol in her handbag and in her bra, the inquest at Wrexham.

Mr Hughes read further evidence which said that when Mrs Lewis was at the hospital she asked a nurse to hide paracetamol and Tramadol for her.

“It was reported and she was warned about the dangers of overdosing,” said Mr Hughes.

Consultant pathologist Dr Anthony Burdge said the level of Tramadol in her body was 2.85mg per litre when the fatal level is above 2mg.

Dr Burdge conducted a detailed investigation and looked at hospital notes to see what Mrs Lewis had been prescribed.

At the hospital Mrs Lewis had been on half the maximum dosage a day.

Dr Burdge added there was nothing else that could have caused Mrs Lewis’ death.

Mr Hughes confirmed there was “no evidence” of anything other than the normal dispension of the drug to Mrs Lewis.

He said: “An unexplained extra supply seems to be the secret of the patient.

“Her son Mr Davies went through her house and got rid of all the tablets which she could have been stock piling for years.

“There was lots of Tramadol in shoeboxes and handbags.

“There was a possibility that she may have a past history of having a secret storage.”

Mr Hughes recorded an open verdict.

He said: “There are so many things that are a closed book to us. I simply do not know what her motivation was.

“I do not even know where she got them from – were they legally prescribed, illegal or stockpiled?”

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