NHS England have commissioned a further review into the 2016 death of teenager Oliver McGowan, who died when staff at Southmead Hospital in Bristol failed to make reasonable adjustments or acknowledge his requests to not use drugs which he was aware he had an aversion to.
Oliver was given the antipsychotic medication Olanzapine, despite both his and his parents’ objections to it, and his medical passport explaining that he had a sensitivity to the drug. Paula McGowan, Oliver’s mum, told UNITE in August last year that doctors justified the administering of the drug by claiming he was having a mental health episode.
Oliver had in fact never been given a diagnosis any mental health concerns, and his mother believes that doctors confused his normal autistic behaviour for mania.
The Olanzapine caused Oliver to develop neuroleptic malignant syndrome, which made his brain swell out of the base of his skull, causing severe brain damage. He died in intensive care 17 days after being given the drug.
A Learning Disabilities Mortality Review (LeDeR) was carried out by the local Commissioning Care Group (CCG), but failed to establish an answer to what Paula believes is the crucial question: whether or not Oliver’s death was avoidable.
She told the BBC: “We know the answer is yes, but why have they done that? It’s an insult to Oliver’s memory and to us.”
In Oliver’s memory, his mother has campaigned to make training on how to make reasonable adjustments mandatory for doctors and nurses. The petition has gained traction in Parliament with MPs debating the subject in chambers.
Paula wants the scheme to be known as the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in Autism and Learning Disability Awareness in his memory to provide her son with the legacy he deserves.Get your copy of UNITE Magazine