The woman was found dead. File photo
Sophia Wicks, s 57-year-old woman was found dead in her home in Croydon, London after accidentally overdosing on drugs prescribed by a doctor, an inquest has heard.
Accoridng to Croydon Advertiser, Sophia Wicks tragically died last year, on January 16, after collapsing while she was making a meal for herself.
Ms Wicks, from Pakistan, was found by two police officers after a neighbour had raised the alarm after reporting not seeing her and hearing an answer phone beep repeatedly.
An inquest into Ms Wick’s death was held on Thursday (April 4) at South London Coroner’s Court, in Croydon, where it was heard the 57-year-old had eight times the recommended amount of tramadol in her system, when a toxicology report was carried out.
After hearing the evidence, senior coroner for south London Selena Lynch said that care needed to be taken in terms of treating patients who are prescribed painkillers.
The court heard how Ms Wicks, who was also diabetic, had been prescribed painkillers such as co-codamol previously to treat chronic pain she was suffering, but was prescribed stronger medication, specifically tramadol, since 2013.
Dr Muhammed Quraishi is believed to be the last doctor to speak with Ms Wicks and explained what tramadol is to the court.
He said: “Tramadol is a strong form of painkiller and is used for patients who have severe pain. It’s used as a high grade form of medication.
“It should be used short-term, but there are incidents where patients with chronic pain find it hard to come off of the drugs, as we have seen in this case.”
The court also heard, from previous medical reports, that Ms Wicks suffered with alcohol dependency.
In the months before her death, Ms Wicks had stayed in contact with her doctors, Valley Park Surgery, on Franklin Way, for repeat prescriptions, citing at times she had lost a prescription previously given to her or it had been thrown away accidentally.
Before her death she had called Dr Quaraishi, on December 29, to enquire about another prescription and he had issued 60 capsules – enough for 12 days.
Both Ms Wick’s doctor and mother had ruled out that she had any suicidal thoughts or tendencies before her sudden death in January, the court also heard.
Ms Lynch read a statement made on behalf of Charlotte Smith, the officer who was called to Ms Wick’s home to find her.
She said: “Police were called after a neighbour said he had not seen or heard from Ms Wicks in a few days and said he could hear her answer phone bleeping.
“I was on duty assigned to a concern for safety call. We [Ms Smith and another officer] arrived in a few minutes after receiving the call and we gained entry to the flat.”
There, Ms Lynch said the officer found Ms Wicks collapsed in the kitchen, at about 10.20pm, with the fridge and microwave door still open from preparing a meal for the evening.
Ms Lynch said: “The levels [of tramadol in the toxicology exam] are very high, so you have the suspicion it was deliberate, but in view of her dependence and in view of the way she was found, I do not think there’s any way this was the case of suicide.
“I think this was an accidental overdose of prescribed medication.”
When giving evidence, Ms Wick’s parents were given the opportunity to put questions to Dr Quarashi, with Ms Wicks’ mother asking why tramadol was prescribed.
Dr Quarashi answered saying that the prescription drug can be necessary for patients suffering from chronic pain, for patients who find co-codamol does not help and that Ms Wicks had been working to reduce her dose.
Ms Lynch added: “I have no criticism of the GP, but we need to see how people are dying so we can try and help others who have drug-seeking behaviour.
“It can be a devil’s advocate for GPs because patients can go somewhere else [to get prescribed drugs], possibly the street and it could be unsafe.
“But we do need to recognise there’s a problem for those who are dependent on pain killers.”
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