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Police launch probe into claims a mother died after NHS staff gave her a paracetamol overdose

Police have launched an investigation into claims a mother of two died after NHS doctors gave her an accidental overdose of paracetamol.

Laura Higginson was being treated in hospital for suspected pneumonia when the blunder occurred.

Her husband, Antony, claims he was never told about the mistake and found out by chance after requesting the post-mortem report months later. 

Police are investigating a claim that mother of two Laura Higginson (left) died after NHS doctors gave her an accidental overdose of paracetamol

He received a copy from his GP in June 2017, around two months after her death.

He contacted lawyers and police amid concerns of a ‘cover up’. Although the death of Mrs Higginson, 30, was reported to the local coroner at the time, no inquest was held. 

The Whiston Hospital, Merseyside, refutes suggestions the overdose contributed to her death and claims complications from a genetic condition she suffered were responsible. 

But it is understood independent experts who analysed her medical notes said the painkiller irreparably damaged her liver and could have been to blame.

Mrs Higginson (pictured, right) died at Whiston Hospital in Merseyside after she was being treated for pneumonia

Mrs Higginson (pictured, right) died at Whiston Hospital in Merseyside after she was being treated for pneumonia 

Yesterday Sefton coroner Julie Goulding said she had agreed to hold a full inquest following the submission of ‘fresh medical evidence.’ 

It opened yesterday and will be heard at a later date.

Mr Higginson, 45, told the Daily Mail that watching their children, Stephen, then nine, and Evie, then seven, say goodbye to their mother in hospital still ‘haunted’ him.

‘Since Laura died life has been very hard,’ said the product manager. 

‘One of the hardest things I have ever done or will ever do was wake the children at 11:30pm (and) drive them into a hospital at night to say goodbye to their mum.

‘That image of seeing the children on the bed crying and making promises to her… My daughter holding Laura’s hand trying to stroke her own face haunts me. 

Her husband, Antony (right), contacted lawyers and police after he noticed on the post-mortem that the painkiller had seriously damaged Mrs Higginson (left)'s liver

Her husband, Antony (right), contacted lawyers and police after he noticed on the post-mortem that the painkiller had seriously damaged Mrs Higginson (left)’s liver

‘I will never recover from seeing the three most precious things in my life in such pain. 

‘I only found out about the overdose when I went to see my GP after struggling with my grief.’

Legal assistant Mrs Higginson had a rare genetic kidney disorder, called Gitelman syndrome, which caused her to be severely underweight and require regular hospital visits.

She was admitted to The Whiston on April 5, 2017, after collapsing at home in Widnes, Cheshire. 

Over the next two days doctors gave her intravenous paracetamol, but it is understood they accidentally gave her a dose for an adult female, instead of one suitable for her small size and frame.

Only when she started to deteriorate did they realise their mistake two days later. 

They administered anti-toxicity drugs, but it was too late. She was moved to intensive care and died on April 19.

Mr Higginson admitted that the memory of taking his two children to the hospital to say goodbye to their mum still haunts him. Mrs Higginson died on April 19 in intensive care

Mr Higginson admitted that the memory of taking his two children to the hospital to say goodbye to their mum still haunts him. Mrs Higginson died on April 19 in intensive care

Mr Higginson said that it was only when his GP gave him a copy of the post-mortem report months later that he realised his wife had been overdosed. 

Her cause of death was given as being due to multi-organ failure and liver cirrhosis, which Mr Higginson believes was caused by the painkiller.

‘I was apoplectic,’ he said. ‘How had the hospital not told me? The fact is it wasn’t Laura’s time to die. 

‘The children and I would give anything to have another hour with her.’

It is understood the hospital disputes claims Mr Higginson or his family were not told about the overdose. 

A spokesman said: ‘The findings of independent clinical experts do not concur with the views of Mr Higginson and will be presented to the coroner.’ 

Whiston Hospital (pictured) refutes any suggestion of an overdose, with Merseyside Police saying an investigation is underway

Whiston Hospital (pictured) refutes any suggestion of an overdose, with Merseyside Police saying an investigation is underway

John Doyle, a solicitor at Slater and Gordon helping Mr Higginson take legal action, said: ‘The trust have now, after three years, admitted administering the paracetamol overdose was negligent, however they continue to deny it caused or contributed to Laura’s death.’

Merseyside Police said: ‘We can confirm an investigation is currently underway.’ 

A spokesman would not comment on the nature of the inquiry, but sources said it was likely to be into potential gross negligence manslaughter. 

Hospital sources said no staff had been suspended, sacked or arrested.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk