Medical Negligence

Warning over anti-sickness drug after long-term use leads to grandmother’s disability 

A grandmother has been left wheelchair-bound and with lifelong vision, speech and movement problems, after medication intended only for short-term periods was prescribed to her for eight years - three of which came after health regulators warned GPs against its prolonged use.

19 February 2024

Our client

Petra Walker-Barrera was given metoclopramide after struggling with nausea as a result of ulcerative colitis, with GPs continuing to issue the anti-sickness drug despite NHS advice that it is taken for a five-day course, unless in exceptional circumstances.  

Having been prescribed the drug since 2008, a warning was issued by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in 2013 against GPs issuing repeat prescriptions – but Petra continued to receive hers for another three years, with five different GPs re-issuing her medication 30 times in total.  

Despite returning to the Pencester Surgery in Dover numerous times to report the onset of symptoms - including problems with her eyes and vision, inability to control her jaw and weakness in her feet and legs - Petra was allowed to remain on metoclopramide, with her concerns being dismissed as anxiety.   

Now, following more than eight years of metoclopramide use, 68-year-old Petra lives with movement disorders tardive dystonia and dyskinesia, and is confined to a wheelchair. She was even left fighting for life after her difficulty in eating and swallowing led to her choking on her food, causing pneumonia and sepsis.  

Muscle weakness in her face means she cannot smile, her speech is slurred, and her attempts to walk have resulted in numerous falls, which have seen her lose several teeth – factors Petra believes have robbed her of her identity.  

Now, she is committed to warning others – both health professionals and patients – of the perils of long-term use of metoclopramide, with Petra believing there are many others who are being given the medication on repeat prescription.  

“Despite warnings about the long-term use of metoclopramide, I was kept on it for years. I went to see the GP so many times but was dismissed as having anxiety. Because of this, my life is in ruins,” says Petra.  

“People need to know what metoclopramide can do. Having spoken to patients across the country in person and on social media, I have heard it is still being prescribed long-term. It is too easy to access repeat prescriptions, and the necessary checks by GPs are not being made, but they really need to be.  

“We cannot allow what has happened to me happen to even one other person – it is ruining lives.” 

Having been given metoclopramide initially to help with the nausea she experienced from colitis, Petra took the medication irregularly until late 2016. While her medication was stopped at one point in 2014 – at a time when her only symptoms were eye problems – a GP later reinstated it.

It was not until 2019, following the deterioration of her condition over the subsequent years, that the link between her long-term medication use and worsening symptoms was recognised by experts at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen’s Square, in London.  

“I had been going back to the GP so many times, but all of my symptoms were treated in isolation. I was never given the time to cover everything in one appointment, and they obviously didn’t look at my medical records,” says Petra.  

“There was one appointment where I went with my daughter, and the GP told her it was all in my head. After my diagnosis, she has struggled badly with the guilt of not believing my symptoms were as bad as they were, because of what she had been told by the GP.  

“The team at Queen’s Square were amazing, and when they told me I was so angry and so upset that this had happened. Even after the warning had been given against repeat prescriptions, I was still given metoclopramide. I just don’t know how it could have happened; how could they have done this?” 

While Petra has been fitted with a Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) device, which has improved some of her symptoms, and she is soon to have surgery on her feet to help her chances of walking, she says the impact to her identity has been particularly difficult.  

Clinical negligence specialist, Kelly Lloyd Davies, is supporting Petra who is taking action against the five GPs who prescribed her with metoclopramide.

“Like most patients, Petra put her trust in medical professionals and believed their advice and reassurances. This has, very sadly, resulted in her being left with conditions which restrict almost every aspect of her life,” says Kelly.  

“This case raises serious questions around the process of issuing repeat prescriptions, and ensuring patient welfare is not put at risk through failing to properly listen to their concerns and carrying out appropriate and timely reviews of their medication. This has failed badly in Petra’s case.  

“We very much echo her message of asking questions of medical professionals if something doesn’t feel right and would urge people to seek appropriate support if they feel they have experienced sub-standard medical care.” 

How we can help

If you feel like you have been over prescribed medication to the detriment of your health, then our expert medical negligence solicitors are on hand to offer you legal support. For more information contact us here

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