A mother-of-one who was throwing up coffee-coloured bile died from liver failure after unintentionally overdosing on paracetamol by drinking too much Lemsip.
Joan Ita Bergin, 58, from Lancashire, had been suffering from a cough and bad chest for around a week in December of last year and had been drinking Lemsip sachets to manage the symptoms.
Her son Matthew called an ambulance on Christmas Day, after noting his mum’s condition had deteriorated, and she was taken to the Royal Preston Hospital.
Mrs Bergin, who was born in New Zealand, had been vomiting coffee-coloured bile and tests revealed she had ‘significantly elevated’ liver enzymes and low oxygen levels.
Joan Ita Bergin, 58, was taken to the intensive care unit at Royal Preston Hospital (pictured) after accidentally overdosing on Lemsip
An inquest heard Mrs Bergin was drinking a sachet of Lemsip every four hours but also told doctors she had taken more than the recommended amount of paracetamol at times. It was unclear which exact Lemsip product she drank (File image)
She was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit but she worsened and was diagnosed with liver failure. It was unclear which exact Lemsip product Mrs Bergin drank.
Liver specialists at Leeds General Infirmary who were consulted advised that no additional treatment options were available.
Mrs Bergin continued to deteriorate and she died at 3.25pm on January 7, 2022.
An inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court this week heard Mrs Bergin had also drunk excessively.
Her son Matthew said in a statement she would drink three to four cans of cider each day before work and up to 10 cans at weekends.
Assistant Coroner Kate Bisset said: ‘He says his mum was in good health normally but she rarely ate much, one full meal per week, and otherwise she would snack on things such as marmalade on toast.
‘She drank plenty of water but had on occasions fainted due to lack of food.’
The inquest heard Mrs Bergin was drinking a sachet of Lemsip every four hours but also told doctors she had taken more than the recommended amount of paracetamol at times.
The recommended maximum dose of Lemsip is one sachet, containing 1,000mg of paracetamol, every four to six hours.
Consultant Patrick Horgan said in a statement Mrs Bergin had significantly elevated liver enzymes and was diagnosed with a liver injury due to unintentional paracetamol overdose.
Mrs Bergin, who was born in New Zealand, had been vomiting coffee-coloured bile and tests revealed she had ‘significantly elevated’ liver enzymes and low oxygen levels. Pictured: The Royal Preston Hospital (File image)
She was given Parvolex, an antidote to paracetamol overdose, but she continued to have episodes of vomiting blood.
On January 4, Dr Liam Morris noted worsening liver enzymes and diagnosed Mrs Bergin with acute liver failure. She died three days later.
The cause of death was given as multiple organ failure, pneumonia and acute liver failure secondary to unintentional paracetamol overdose. Contributory factors were cited as alcohol-related liver disease and esophageal ulceration.
Returning a conclusion of misadventure, which is when a death is caused by the unintentional consequences of an intended act, the coroner said: ‘Joan Ita Bergin died on January 7, 2022, at the Royal Preston Hospital of multiple organ failure caused by an unintentional paracetamol overdose.’
The inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court (pictured) this week heard Mrs Bergin had also drunk execssively. Her son Matthew said in a statement she would drink three to four cans of cider each day before work and up to 10 cans at weekends (File image)
A spokeswoman for Reckitt, the company that makes Lemsip, told MailOnline: ‘We are very saddened to hear about Joan [Ita] Bergin’s case.
‘We send our deepest sympathies to her family.
‘At Reckitt, consumer safety is our top priority. We work closely with the MHRA and PAGB, alongside other relevant associations, to ensure all safety and packaging requirements are met for Over-The-Counter products that contain paracetamol, such as Lemsip.
‘The safety information and instructions for use are always reflected on the packaging and information leaflets.
‘As with any medication, we would remind consumers and their caregivers to carefully read and follow the instructions provided on the packaging and patient information leaflet of all our medicinal products.
‘In respect of Lemsip Max Sachets we would like to remind consumers to not exceed more than 4 sachets in 24 hours, to leave at least 4-6 hours between doses, if symptoms persist for more than three days or worsen to consult a pharmacist and to call a doctor immediately if they take too much.
If our consumers have any additional concerns, we recommend that they speak to their healthcare professional.’