A coroner has slammed the dangers of being able to buy prescription drugs online after a nurse accidentally took a fatal overdose of codeine she bo
A coroner has slammed the dangers of being able to buy prescription drugs online after a nurse accidentally took a fatal overdose of codeine she bought over the internet without telling her GP.
Mother-of-two Katie Emma Corrigan, 38, was addicted to the painkiller and was struck off in 2017 after forging prescriptions to obtain extra medication.
She was found dead in her home in St Erth, Cornwall, on August 9 last year with fatal levels of the painkiller in her system.
A coroner concluded that she died a drug-related death and has pledged to write a rare Prevention of Future Deaths report to highlight the dangers of buying prescription medication online.
Truro Coroner’s Court heard how Mrs Corrigan was able to exploit a loophole at her GP’s surgery to obtain extra medication and forged prescriptions at work – leading to her being struck off as a nurse.
Mrs Corrigan was able to request repeat prescriptions early, her GP Tamara Curnow said.
Katie Emma Corrigan, 38, was found dead in her home in St Erth, Cornwall, on August 9 last year with fatal levels of the drug in her system
After the loophole was identified by doctors, Mrs Corrigan found a way to obtain prescription drugs online.
The loophole which led to Mrs Corrigan being over-prescribed the medication from her GP has since been closed and the coroner said the surgery was not to blame for her death.
Coroner Andrew Cox said he was concerned that Mrs Corrigan was able to access codeine online and other prescription drugs online despite not receiving a prescription from her GP since April 2018.
Mr Cox said: ‘No-one has explained to me satisfactorily or at all where that’s come from.
‘My strong suspicion is that it’s come from online somewhere but we’ve not been able to explore today how it is that Mrs Corrigan was still able to source that medication.
‘On the assumption that those online pharmacies are based in England or Wales it seems to me that’s a matter giving rise to concern that I need to explore further.’
A coroner concluded that she died a drug-related death and has pledged to write a rare Prevention of Future Deaths report to highlight the dangers of buying prescription medication online
Her mother, Christine Taylor, said the last time her daughter bought medication from an online pharmacy was on July 1 last year.
Meanwhile, Mrs Taylor’s daughter-in-law, Emma, said she found prescription drugs not from a local pharmacy when she was going through her belongings.
Mrs Taylor said: ‘I think one was from Birmingham. I went online to see how easy it is to obtain prescription drugs and on one website there was a button which said if you don’t wish to share this with your GP click here and you can press a button so you don’t share it with your GP. ‘
The inquest heard how a catalogue of factors in Mrs Corrigan’s life led to her addiction, including how she was in a ‘controlling marriage’ before going through a traumatic divorce.
She suffered a serious sexual assault which resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder and lost custody of her children after taking drugs in their presence.
Tuesday’s inquest heard how Mrs Corrigan, who was ‘desperate to become a nurse’, suffered from anxiety and depression.
Truro Coroner’s Court (pictured) heard how Mrs Corrigan was able to exploit a loophole at her GP’s surgery to obtain extra medication and forged prescriptions at work – leading to her being struck off as a nurse
Speaking at the hearing, her mother, Christine Taylor, said her daughter was a ‘lovely person’ but struggled with her mental health and previously suffered miscarriages.
Mrs Taylor said: ‘She had suffered with depression and anxiety for some time and at some stage she developed a dependence on [the medication].’
She said her daughter had neck problems and was prescribed tablets to help deal with the pain.
Mrs Taylor said: ‘She was in a controlling marriage, she had two children to look after, two jobs to sort out and I think her depression worsened.’
Mrs Corrigan was also a victim of a serious sexual assault when she was working as a nurse at West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance, the inquest heard.
Katie Corrigan – who had been ‘desperate to become a nurse’ – suffered with anxiety and depression
Mrs Taylor said: ‘She had a traumatic event when she was leaving West
Cornwall Hospital in Penzance. Somebody followed her to the car and seriously sexually assaulted her.
She was ‘kind, caring, loving and loyal’: Parents’ tribute after nurse, 38, accidentally overdoses on codeine
In a tribute to their daughter after the inquest, Mrs Corrigan’s parents, Fred and Christine Taylor, said: ‘Katie was a lovely person; kind, caring, loving and loyal.
‘She had a wicked sense of humour and a smile that lit up the room. She was very much loved by her family, friends and work colleagues and absolutely adored by her two beautiful children.
‘Katie experienced many traumatic events in her life, more than anyone should have to endure, which resulted in her battling and suffering with anxiety and depression.
‘She engaged with the mental health services, she desperately wanted help, but unfortunately these were ineffective for Katie for various reasons – one being unable to access face-to-face consultations due to lockdown.
‘Katie trained as a nurse, a career that she loved and one that she hoped to be in for life, but this was not to be.
‘She was an integral part of our family, a wonderful daughter, sister and auntie and above all an excellent and loving mother.
‘Katie is very much loved and will be missed every day by her family and friends.
‘Her children are her lasting legacy and will be a constant reminder to everyone who knew and loved her.’
‘This resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She didn’t tell us, or her husband at the time, and it just festered basically.’
Mrs Corrigan then got a job as a practice nurse in Penzance, which she was ‘absolutely thrilled’ about, but it was hard for her and completely different to what she was used to.
This was at The Morrab Surgery, where she used her mentor’s username and password to forge prescriptions.
It came to light that she was trying to haul a number of pills and as a result she was struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
In October 2018, Mrs Corrigan appeared at Truro Crown Court and was found guilty of two counts of fraud and one county of forgery.
She received a 10-month custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months.
Mrs Taylor said: ‘She was devastated by this. Her whole career, all the work she worked really hard for, then her husband was basically training to be in the fire service and met someone else.
‘He told Katie he was having an affair on Christmas Eve 2017 and she had to pretend everything was fine for the children on Christmas Day.’
According to Mrs Taylor it was Mrs Corrigan’s husband who informed the police that she was forging prescriptions, and over the past three years she had been going through a ‘traumatic divorce’.
She said her daughter continued to take the medication, which led to a safeguarding issue when she was looking after the children.
Mrs Taylor said: ‘She did have the children at the time. The children didn’t go to school, so her ex-husband was contacted and his partner came and picked the children up and a safeguarding issue was raised. She was very unwell after that.’
Mrs Corrigan’s husband was then given primary care of the children and she could only see them when supervised by her parents.
However, when the lockdown started, Mrs Corrigan’s husband refused access to the children for five weeks, because Mrs Taylor was still working as a nurse and was unable to supervise visits.