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Poorly baby given out-of-date medicine by pharmacy at Kent and Canterbury Hospital

Children's medicine six months past its use-by date was dished out to a poorly baby by Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

Four-month-old Phoebe Nightingale was given the expired infant Gaviscon to treat severe reflux by the hospital’s pharmacy, sparking an internal investigation.

Her mum Lauren, 27, picked up four boxes of the medicine from the K&C on August 9, only to find it had a use-by date of February 1, 2017 - two months before Phoebe was even born.

Packet of Infant Gaviscon
Packet of Infant Gaviscon

She marched back into the pharmacy to complain, and was appalled to discover all boxes in stock had also expired six months before.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said the mum-of-two, who lives in Ramsgate.

“I had only got as far as the car park when I spotted the date. I was absolutely disgusted.

“I brought it back into the pharmacy and they were just as appalled as me.

“They checked all the other boxes and they all said February 2017, so we couldn’t even get any medicine.”

Mrs Nightingale had been desperate for the infant Gaviscon in the face of a national shortage, and was told by her GP to try the QEQM Hospital in Margate.

"Who knows what other medicine they’re doing it with? It’s very worrying" - Phoebe Nightingale's mother, Lauren

They in turn directed her to the K&C pharmacy, which she was assured had 13 boxes of the medicine in stock.

“We went straight over there with the prescription and were really happy that they had some,” she said.

“But clearly no one had carried out the proper checks, or just simply looked at the use-by date like I did. It’s shocking.

“I’ve been told if we had given it to Phoebe it wouldn’t have been harmful - it just wouldn’t have worked as well as it should.

“But who knows what other medicine they’re doing it with? It’s very worrying.”

Hospital bosses say they are investigating how the error occurred, but claim no other patients were given the expired medicine.

The Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury
The Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury

Pharmacy director Will Willson said: “We are very sorry for this mistake. We ensured that the patient was given in-date medicine as quickly as possible.

“We have checked and this batch of medicine has not been given to any other patient since it expired.

“The majority of medicines in our pharmacy are dispensed robotically, which reduces errors and waste.

“When drugs are delivered, the packages are scanned by the robot and stored so that the older stock is used first.

“Expiry dates are checked as part of the standard checking process for every product released from pharmacy.

“We are finding out how this happened to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”

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