9-year-old nearly dies after given methadone by bungling pharmacist

NOTTINGHAM, England—Police have launched an investigation after a young girl nearly died when a bungling pharmacist gave her methadone instead of antibiotics.

Ruby-Mai Bell, age 9, was rushed to the hospital after she was given a dose of the powerful drug which is usually used to treat heroin addiction.

Her mother, Donna Buckley, had taken her to their local general practitioner who prescribed her antibiotics for a water infection on Tuesday.

But when they went to pick it up at Manor Pharmacy in Nottingham, they were accidentally given someone else's medication.

Buckley, unaware of the mix-up, gave Ruby two spoonfuls of the medicine but luckily didn't give her a second dose when she became drowsy.

But it was only when the pharmacist knocked on their front door that she was told her daughter had been given methadone, which has similar effects to heroin.

Buckley, 36, and her partner Ralph Bell, 38, rushed Ruby-Mai to the emergency department at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, where she underwent a series of tests and was kept in overnight.

Doctors told Buckley that Ruby-Mai could have died if she received a second dose of methadone, she said.

Buckley and Ralph had decided to return to the pharmacy later the same day after Ruby-Mai felt "really warm" and her condition got worse.

They were then taken home and told their daughter had been given a prescription of methadone meant for someone else.

"I was hysterical," Buckley said. "The state I was in was unreal. I thought I was going to lose my daughter when I heard that word, methadone."

She added: "The worst thing was the doctors saying to me that If I'd have given her those next two spoonfuls it would be completely different. The only reason I did not give her any more was because she was so sleepy.

"It is still in my head about what if we gave her more. We would have lost her."

Ruby-Mai, who has since made a full recovery, said the incident had left her scared to take medicine.

"It was really weird," the girl said. "At first I didn't know where I was until I saw that I was on a hospital bed. I was all dizzy and I felt all funny. Mum said that grandma came on the day but I can't remember anything."

Ruby-Mai has since returned to school, and her parents are now considering taking legal action against the pharmacy. Manor Pharmacy has now written to the family explaining the mix-up and NHS England has launched a full investigation. Nottinghamshire Police is also investigating the incident.

USA TODAY


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